As a 25-year Navy Veteran with three deployments – Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, I know what it means to serve our nation in harm’s way. The selfless dedication of our men and women in uniform inspires me each and every day.
We owe it to our Veterans to keep our promises and ensure they have what they need when they come home. That means access to a world-class healthcare system to heal the wounds they bore for our nation; and never forsaking those for whom the battle continues to rage after they’ve come home.
My commitment to Veterans didn’t end when I retired from active duty in 2016. I hung up the uniform on a Friday and was working as a doctor at the Phoenix VA the next Monday. Rather than take a less challenging or more financially rewarding position elsewhere in Phoenix, I knew the VA was where I was needed most and where I could quickly make a big impact on the lives of Veterans. As the first interventional radiologist on staff there in decades, I established programs to care for Veterans with cancer and liver disease and built the system’s first clinic and consultation service of its kind. That’s what personal commitment to Veterans is all about.
Working at the Phoenix VA allowed me to witness firsthand the valiant effort so many hard-working and dedicated staff make each day to improve the health and well-being of our community’s Vets. It also showed me the areas where we must improve. We need to fix a badly broken HR system that allows the few bad apples to ruin the barrel. It doesn’t empower capable leaders with the authority or agility to hire the right people to accomplish their mission. The system rewards employees who perform or behave poorly by allowing endless appeals and administrative actions, all the while blocking the ability to replace that person with someone who is capable and eager to work.
The VA system is plagued by contracting and supply challenges that are managed from a distance by bureaucrats, people disconnected from patient care who are out of touch with the folks in the trenches working hard on behalf of Veterans. This results in shortages, mismatches, and cost overruns – this is bad for Veterans and for taxpayers.
Some of these fixes can be accomplished locally, but many require acts of Congress.
As a Veteran, a doctor, and a former VA employee I will bring firsthand experience to Congress that no other member of Congress can. I’ll make the changes Veterans in Phoenix need to receive the care they earned.
There can be few higher priorities than a strong cybersecurity program that ensures American safety. Power grids, communications networks, and transportation systems all work on a digital backbone which simultaneously gives us great scale and efficiency but also great vulnerability. Cyber terrorists and hostile governments see these as soft targets that can wreak havoc on our safety, our economy, and our quality of life. In Washington, I will fight to modernize our technology infrastructure and ensure that America’s best and brightest tech minds are put to work to safeguard our interests.
A high-quality education is the foundation for economic and social success and the best hope for a bright future. Education fuels the engine of innovation, creates entrepreneurs, and trains the workforce of the 21st century. Education is also a fundamentally local issue. Our children are unique and extraordinary and the notion that a one-size-fits-all teaching paradigm passed down by Washington bureaucrats could ever work is foolish.
Standards not Standardization.
Local parents and educators know the skills their children need to be competitive in a modern economy and a complex world. They are the ones who are best positioned to ensure these educational needs are met, sensitive to unique differences that occur across the country but also across town.
I will fight to keep big government and DC bureaucrats out of our children’s schools and end the practice of extorting compliance from local school districts as a quid pro quo for federal dollars.
America is mired in one of its most tepid economies in modern history. For the first time in our history, Americans lack confidence that their children will be better off than they are and more people are discouraged by the lack of employment opportunities than ever. College graduates leave school with a mountain of debt and face a job market that leaves little hope of the ability to repay, let alone own a home and start a family.
In Washington, I will fight to repeal the oppressive regulations and taxes that have been levied on hard-working small business owners over the past 8 years. Between crushing healthcare regulations and the community bank and credit union killing Dodd-Frank Act, piled onto one of the most hostile tax codes in the developed world, entrepreneurs have little ability or incentive to build and grow a business.
It hasn’t always been this way, and we can make it right again.
Small businesses are the engine of the economy and American innovation. In Washington I will fight to shrink the federal government, repeal job-killing regulations including Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, and overhaul and simplify the tax code to encourage small businesses to form and to grow.
We will dispose of the one-size fits all education programs that are failing our young people and replace them with primary and secondary education that prepares them for the modern economy. We will partner with industry to provide Arizonans of all ages with the training they need to thrive in the modern economy where many high-paying jobs go unfilled each day.
These initiatives will make Arizona a destination for business. We will build a business-friendly climate and a skilled workforce that attracts high paying jobs from other states and fosters homegrown ones as well. We’re blessed to have great weather and abundant natural beauty, now we just need to take charge of the factors we control to forge a bright future for the Valley.
I have been blessed with outstanding female role models throughout my life. Despite humble origins and with little formal education, my Mom showed an indefatigable spirit and instilled me with the belief that anything is possible. Her love, strength, and independence made a profound impact on me and although I lost her just after my 20th birthday, she continues to guide me each day.
My better half for over 22 years, Elizabeth is a brilliant Berkeley graduate who has dedicated her professional life to children and the country as a Pediatric Nephrologist and a Captain in the Navy. In her 26th year of active duty service, she manages to miraculously balance the demands of being mother, physician, and Naval Officer.
Throughout my career, I have been deeply influenced by women mentors. I had the great fortune of learning my field from two of the world’s best Interventional and Pediatric Interventional Radiologists: Anne Roberts, MD and Patricia Burrows, MD; and Admiral (Ret.) Christine Hunter inspired and supported me as a Congressional Fellow, confident that we could make a difference in the lives of Americans.
In Washington I will tirelessly fight for women. Whether it’s equal pay for equal work, leadership and educational opportunities, or empowerment of traditional family roles I believe that our community and our nation will thrive when women are given the opportunities to achieve their fullest potential.
Healthcare is a unique issue affecting all of us each day of our lives. For that reason, it is of paramount importance to every American.
I believe that Every American deserves access to high quality, affordable healthcare.
Obamacare has made that proposition unachievable. Costs have skyrocketed and access hasn’t improved. Obamacare has shown that having insurance is not the same as having a doctor. And the “Affordable Care Act” is anything but affordable. That’s to say nothing of its job killing effects and astronomical costs to the taxpayer. Despite the many (broken) promises, middle-class families are now asked to choose between medicine, food, and rent.
There’s A Better Way.
As a practicing physician for over 20 years, I know firsthand the emotional and financial struggles families face. Helping rectify healthcare disparities will be one of my chief priorities in Congress. In the Navy, keeping our patients healthy so that they’re fit to fight at a moments’ notice was job one, and that mindset translates to civilian healthcare as well.
As the Navy’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of Clinical Operations, I helped lead one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems: a worldwide network of ~9.5 million patients, 63,000 dedicated healthcare professionals, and an annual budget of $50 billion. From supporting troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to halting the spread of the Ebola virus in 2014, everyday presented unique challenges and opportunities. Directly accountable to Congress and the Secretary of Defense, we ensured that millions of military families enjoyed outstanding levels of Access, Quality, and Safety in their healthcare experience. Because when a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine is in the fight, we make sure they’re never distracted having to worry about their family’s health.
When it comes to fixing our broken healthcare system, I’ll bring the experience of a leader and the compassion of a doctor to Washington.
The federal government’s most important responsibility is ensuring the safety of the American people. With terrorists intent on harming peace-loving Americans, a secure border is fundamental to keeping that promise. Arizona’s extensive border with Mexico makes it uniquely vulnerable to border security threats, making it imperative that our representatives in Washington tirelessly advocate for maximizing border security through all means available. First and foremost, we must:
Immigration - Close to my heart.
In 1904, my grandfather came to America as a stowaway from Italy when he was only 8 years old. He had no family, spoke no English, and had no education. Never knowing his own birthday, he celebrated it on the 4th of July as a tribute to the nation which offered him so much opportunity. Although he was never able to attend school, through hard work and perseverance he realized the American Dream: marrying his sweetheart, owning a home, and raising three successful children.
Our immigration policy has changed a lot since then, and so has the opportunity to achieve the American Dream; and it hasn’t been for the better! Through a hapless immigration policy, laws are unenforced, honest people are forced into the shadows, and criminals are brazenly harbored in sanctuary cities.
Our security and our economy require immediate action. A porous border permits terrorists to enter our country more easily than would-be workers. It’s past time that we get our immigration policy on track. That means ensuring those who mean us harm stay out and those that will help grow our economy and are eager to adopt the American way of life can enter. America remains the world’s destination of choice. A smart and thoughtful immigration policy will keep America safe and provide the workforce to rekindle the American Dream for those already here and those yet to come.
Opioid Epidemic - Communities in Arizona and across America are seeing their social fabric unraveled by the scourge of the opioid epidemic.
The numbers are staggering. Each year we are losing as many Americans to opioid overdose than we lost during the entire Vietnam War. Just last month (June 15 – June 22), 191 suspected opioid overdoses were reported in Arizona alone leading to 15 tragic fatalities in our state.1 This growing pandemic led to 790 deaths in our state last year – the highest annual total in Arizona’s history.2
This violent killer is largely a potent synthetic narcotic known as fentanyl. The Department of Homeland Security has identified two sources for this illicit fentanyl threat: China and Mexico. Labs in China illicitly produce the drug, 50-100 times more potent than morphine, and ship it to Mexico. Ruthless drug cartels exploit this lucrative trade to kill Americans and devastate survivors. A single cartel purchase of $3,000 -$5,000 of fentanyl sells for $1.5 million on the illicit market; making it even more profitable than heroin.
According to a recent hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Oversight Committee, most of the fentanyl is being smuggled across a “porous border” with Mexico. Trafficking occurs by foot, car, drone, or even launched by catapult. Fentanyl also poses a unique risk to our brave law enforcement agents: during apprehension of these smugglers lethal doses can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin.
Our strategy to combat this menace must be multifaceted:
As a physician, I know firsthand what a devastating toll this takes on patients and families. In addition to legislative strategies to combat this problem, I’ll ensure that we commit the resources necessary to develop alternative means to prevent patients from becoming addicted to painkillers and to break the cycle of addiction.
1) http://kjzz.org/content/496252/arizona-releases-weekly-opioid-overdose-data; 2) http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-health/2017/06/27/arizona-had-191-opioid-overdoses-15-deaths-last-week/430333001/
The Obama Administration oversaw one of the most feckless foreign policies in American history:
The world is more dangerous than it has been in decades. All the while, our military has been hollowed out and ceaselessly asked to do more dangerous missions with fewer people, older equipment, and shrinking resources.
Fewer Veterans serve in Congress today than at any time since World War II. We need people in Congress who make the safety of the American people their first priority, people who swore to protect and defend the Constitution and volunteered their own safety to do so. Only Veterans understand firsthand what is being asked of service members who go into harm’s way, and how to use the military successfully once that decision is made. I spent 25 years in uniform and deployed with the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, retiring as a Navy Captain. A true family commitment, my dad is a Korean War Veteran and my wife remains on active duty in her 26th year of Naval service as a Captain. I am 100% committed to a strong military and a strong national defense. I will hold civilian leaders accountable so that our men and women deployed overseas have the tools and the policies they need to successfully execute their mission and return home safely.
I believe in peace through strength. The danger and uncertainty in the world today is like no other period in my lifetime. To tame these risks, I will bring experience, courage, and servant leadership to Washington.
Steve ferrara is a retired member of the navy. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement from the department of defense or the navy.