What can we learn for this presidential election to help protect the issues and values we care about? Climate change, women’s rights, economic equality, health care, and many more are likely to become headlines under the new administration.

A campaign can’t take their base for granted and needs to inspire and motivate people through a clear vision that encompasses their values. Momentum builds. When you motivate a base, others don’t want to be left out. It’s human nature to join the team and not be left behind.

In Clinton’s campaign, we saw a message that relied heavily on: vote for me because the other guy is unfit to lead – not a vision with values that inspired the Democratic base to vote. The frame became about Trump. Successful campaigns make the campaign about the voters values and build empathy with them. Ironically, Trump was a broken record talking to his base. He motivated his base through their shared values and they voted in the key states needed to win.

Trump won two million fewer votes than Romney did in 2012, compared with Clinton who won seven million fewer votes than Obama – both not great, but one inspired more action.

When it came to white voters, surprisingly there was little change between elections. Clinton won 37 percent of the white vote, compared to Obama’s 39 percent. Trump also captured 58 percent of the vote to Romney’s 59 percent. White voters made up 70 percent of the electorate this year, down from 72 percent four years ago. Overall, the percentage in support did not change greatly, but the number of voters who were inspired and motivated to vote did in the targeted states.

Then how do you inspire someone to act? You don’t tell voters what to do or that the world is coming to an end, so to speak. People need a positive solution that relates and builds empathy with them through shared values. And the best way to convey your values and vision is through stories – a good story is lasting, creates empathy, entertains and leads to action.

So what’s a good model to inspire voters? Most marketing follows a “have, do, be” pattern. If we have a product like a new Tesla, we will do something with it like drive ludicrous speeds, and be happy. However, we all know one could have all the money in the world, do stuff with it and still be unhappy – additionally many become unsatisfied and end up looking to have the next best product. The impact is short term.

During this election cycle many ended up focusing on having the candidate, not the candidate being those values and vision. The narrative went: if we have Clinton, we will govern, and we will be happy.

To inspire and motivate long-term change the pattern should read the opposite: “be, do, have.” Dr. King did not have a five-point plan, he had a dream that inspired people to take action. He started with a clear vision and values and became a symbol of them. He repeated this vision and repeated it through inspiring stories. When we start with the vision that encompasses our values, we do things like vote and then have a president that will live that vision.

Let’s stop selling candidates and issues. Let’s be and live our vision to improve our world.

Originally Published on the Huffington Post

Originally Published on the Huffington Post

As a deal on climate change in Paris approaches, it is important to remember that this is only the first major step – we now need to successfully implement any agreement. This is why I am working with a number of current and former elected officials to help ensure the U.S. continues to prosper from clean energy and reduce carbon pollution.

At the Paris Climate Conference we announced that over 350 U.S. state and local elected officials from 46 states signed a letter calling for 50 percent clean energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

We organized this initiative to highlight the important work state and local governments are doing to promote clean energy and combat climate change, despite many in Congress’ complete lack of leadership to protect our families and communities.

The initiative was headlined in Paris by California Senator President Pro Tempore Kevin De León. California recently passed legislation to achieve 50 percent clean energy by 2030 and is the world’s 7th largest economy.

“California’s example shows that climate action can be an engine for broadly shared economic prosperity,” said De León. “By promoting the development of clean energy resources, we are simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and creating jobs that can lift families out of poverty. If Congress won’t act, it’s incumbent on state and local leaders to do the job for them.”

Another example of state and local governments leading the way to a clean energy future came from Des Moines, Iowa Mayor Frank Cownie.

“Our region used to be coal country, and now is powered by 40 percent wind. That’s the future that cities and states are creating,” said Cownie. “Where there used to be 23 coal mines 100 years ago in and around the city, now we are building a green space corridor and new industries. It’s time for cities, states, the United States and the world to aggressively commit to creating a better, clean energy future.”

This is a necessary and achievable goal. The initiative supports the implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, as it will bring the U.S. within seven percent of the stated goal. With additional leadership at the federal, state, and local levels, our country will successfully reach the 50 percent by 2030 goal.

Alex Cornell du Houx, Paris Climate Talks

California East Bay Municipal Utility District Director Andy Katz, California Senator President Pro Tempore Kevin De León, West Palm Beach, FL Mayor Jeri Muoio, and Des Moines, IA Mayor Frank Cownie speak at an international press conference promoting 50 percent clean energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean energy by 2050 at the Paris Climate Conference.

Clean energy is an American success story. It is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the United States and already provides 360,000 jobs. The solar industry alone employs 143,000 people—more individuals than work in coal mines — and grew 20 percent in 2014. Last year a new solar project was installed every 2.5 minutes.

“The political will to act on climate change exists in every state and community. But it’s been drowned out by the millions of dollars dirty energy companies spend to sow doubt and denial,” said former Caroline New York Council member and Deputy Town Supervisor Dominic Frongillo, who helped organize the letter. “The decades of deception are over: science is clear on the necessity to move off fossil fuels, and Exxon-Mobil is under investigation for misleading shareholders and the American people. We need elected officials to lead a fair and swift transition to 100 percent clean energy. The transition to renewables can create jobs and prosperous opportunities across the United States and the world. Now it’s time to lead.”

This year, the United States has hit many clean energy milestones. America has added more clean power than natural gas, with clean energy generation up 11 percent while natural gas generation declined. Demonstrating the opportunity, solar jobs grew 20 times faster than the rest of the economy.

“We want the rest of the world to know that the climate-denying, anti-science voices in Congress do not represent America,” said Nick Rathod, Executive Director of the State Innovation Exchange, who works with lawmakers across the nation. Innovations at the state level often drive our national policy forward and that is exactly what is happening in the fight against climate change. States are leading the way.”

The investment of New England Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) estimates a return of more than $2.9 billion in lifetime energy bill savings to more than 3.7 million participating households and 17,800 businesses. In California, a similar program generated $969 million in revenue for the state through the end of 2014, and is expected to generate $2 billion a year or more in the future.

The RGGI states have experienced over a 40 percent reduction in power sector carbon pollution since 2005, while the regional economy has grown eight percent. “This proves that we can reduce pollution that’s putting our communities’ health at risk while growing jobs and prosperity. From East Coast to West Coast – states and local communities are leading the way,” said California East Bay Municipal Utility District Director Andy Katz, who helped organize the letter.

“Cities and states and on the front lines of climate change. As sea levels rise, our city is in danger,” said West Palm Beach, FL Mayor Jeri Muoio. “To protect our future and lead by example, we have made a commitment to power all our city vehicles without fossil fuels.”

The launch of this letter is only the beginning and will continue to add signatures. We will be working with state and local elected officials across America to ensure a healthier and safer future for our children. As leaders responsible for America’s present and future prosperity, we must take action now.

 

Consulting

Alex Cornell du Houx, White House press conference for Operation​ Free, Truman National Security Project

Alex specializes in value-based strategic communications and leadership evaluation and implementation for social impact and public sector organizations.

Alex is currently working on a documentary and short videos on water security as it relates to climate change to educate lawmakers and the public. By creating empathy through storytelling, he aims to inspire community action, the media and lawmakers to combat climate change and promote water security. A short preview can be viewed here.

Alex is responsible for award-winning media strategies. The Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House said the guide to the Clean Power Plan he created for lawmakers was, “Huge. Seriously appreciate your efforts on this—and the messaging/points/examples are phenomenal.”

He is as a professional photographer and continues to shoot events, as well as operations for the Navy. He’s filmed, edited and produced videos for campaigns, businesses, nonprofits and for the Navy. He has organized and participated in press conferences at the White House, state capitols across the nation, and internationally – recently during the U.N. Paris Climate Change Conference.

Alex has appeared on NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, NPR, international media, and countless local and regional outlets.  He blogs for the Huffington Post, and is published in Newsweek and numerous local papers.

Alex created countless messaging documents, media advisories, press releases, and speeches for Navy admirals and lawmakers and organizations. He is proficient at Photoshop and Premiere, as well as creating digital media. He has extensive knowledge in running social media campaigns, email platforms, and content management platforms. In addition, he has created, updated and managed websites.

Training

Alex visited a different state or nation just about every other week to train and work with lawmakers and organizations on how to communicate their issues clearly and effectively. This year alone he has flown 123,000 miles across the U.S. and world.

The values-based strategic communications training he conducts consistently receives extensive praise. As an Iowa lawmaker put it, “In my 20 years working on environmental issues and at one point teaching communications, I have never seen a better presentation.” Other organizations, like the Veterans Campaign and the New Leaders Council, regularly ask Alex to train their members. One hundred percent of those surveyed recommended him to train their next class.

Additional trainings include empathy based fundraising and leadership development.

Alex also provided media training to over 900 senior officers from all branches, including foreign militaries at the U.S. Naval War College and U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for all operations in the Middle East.

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Alex Cornell du Houx was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 2008, representing District 66, Brunswick for two terms. He served on the Veterans’ and Legal Affairs Committee and the Energy, Technology and Utilities Committees. He was chair of the Veterans Caucus and served on the task force to combat veteran’s homelessness. Cornell du Houx served as vice-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Agriculture and Energy Committee and served on NCSL’s Criminal Justice Committee. He helped found and lead the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now. He is also a vice-chair of the DNC’s Veteran and Military Families Council.

According to Maine.gov, Cornell du Houx sponsored or co-sponsored 155 bills, rules, memorials, sentiments or resolutions during the 124th Legislature and 136 during the 125th Legislature. This includes seven bills enacted into law sponsored (as compared with bills co-sponsored, rules, memorials, sentiments or resolutions) by Rep. Cornell du Houx in 2008-2010 (124th) and seven bills sponsored and enacted in 2011/2012 (125th). Successful legislation co-sponsored by Cornell du Houx includes 98 bills in 2008-2010.

Energy and Economic Development
Renewable Energy Investment –Alex Cornell du Houx submitted legislation to create “Pine Tree Economic Development Zones” to encourage renewable energy investment, which was rolled into a committee bill and is now helping boost economic investment in Maine.

Weatherization —Alex Cornell du Houx worked on legislation with the aim to weatherize every house in the state and half of all businesses. He has traveled to the White House to promote Maine’s leadership in this area and sits on the board for Habitat for Humanity in midcoast Maine, where they launched a weatherization and rehab program to weatherize 150 houses in the community.

Brunswick Naval Air Station Redevelopment —Alex Cornell du Houx worked hard with the region’s delegation to ensure the redevelopment of BNAS brings quality jobs and turns into an economic boost to Brunswick and the region. He worked on legislation to bring the University of Maine’s and Southern Maine’s Community College’s advanced composite program to the Brunswick Landing.

Veterans and Green Jobs – A third of those who deployed with the Maine National Guard did not have employment when they deployed.Alex Cornell du Houx worked to bring a “Veterans Green Jobs” program to the state, which trains veterans in weatherization and clean energy technology jobs.

Preserve Home-ownership and Protecting Tenants During Foreclosure –Alex Cornell du Houx submitted and cosponsored legislation to protect tenants during foreclosures and help homeowners keep their homes, which is now helping homeowners and tenants across the state.

United Nations Climate Change Conference –Alex Cornell du Houx traveled to  Copenhagen for the climate negotiations, where he spoke at an international press conference, participated on panels, and promoted Maine’s leadership in weatherization and Regional New England Greenhouse Gas Initiative programs.

Renewable-energy portfolio (RPS) –Alex Cornell du Houx successfully defended Maine’s RPS and worked with the NH state legislature to successfully defend their RPS. Mane’s RPS has boosted the state’s economy, according to a recent London Economics report.

Weatherize the Statehouse –Alex Cornell du Houx successfully created a law to weatherize the state house as we should be leading by example and saving needed taxpayer funds.

Reduce the state’s dependency on oil –Alex Cornell du Houx passed legislation to set real goals for the state to reduce our dependence on oil as Maine is one of the most dependent states on oil in the nation. He worked to adopt the legislation in a number of states and California recently singed it into law. It will improve our energy security, economic security and environment.

Protecting oil and gas consumers –Alex Cornell du Houx worked with both parties, Rep. Prescott and the oil and gas companies in Maine to write legislation praised by Gov. LePage, to protect oil and gas consumers from fraud.

Rail and Amtrak – As a member of the Rail Caucus,Alex Cornell du Houx worked hard to bring passenger and freight trains to Brunswick and the rest of the state. Maine recently  35 million dollars to upgrade the tracks from Portland to Brunswick in stimulus funding because of the work accomplished to make the project shovel ready. We are pleased to see Amtrak is now serving Brunswick.

Education
Alex Cornell du Houx volunteered in the Brunswick school system for six years as an America Counts and Reads tutor and coaches boy’s lacrosse and soccer at the Brunswick junior high school. He also worked to improve the Maine Learning Results in underage substance abuse and athletic policy.

Alex Cornell du Houx chairs the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council and sits on their advisory board – founded by Senator Mitchell to give Maine students the opportunity to attend college and further their professional development. The council works to provide resources for Mitchell Institute Alumni and current Mitchell Scholars.

Veterans Education –Alex Cornell du Houx passed legislation to make Maine one of the only states in the nation that allows any veteran to take advantage our quality higher education system at no cost in conjunction with the 21st Century GI Bill.

Community College Development –Alex Cornell du Houx worked hard with the Brunswick delegation to bring a bond to the ballot to fund the development of Southern Maine Community College at the redeveloped Brunswick Naval Air Station to focus on composite technology.

Financial Literacy –Alex Cornell du Houx implemented a financial literacy program to Brunswick’s high school with former state representative Tommy Davison at no cost to the district.

Local Food and farms –Alex Cornell du Houx wrote legislation that was rolled into another successful bill to promote the use of local food form Maine farms in our school lunch and breakfast programs.

Environment
Alex Cornell du Houx is vice chair of the National Council of State Legislators Energy Committee and is a member of the National Council of Environmental Legislators. He worked for a summer on a local organic farm and supports organic farms and farmers’ markets.

Climate Change –Alex Cornell du Houx works on climate change, energy and national security issues with the Truman National Security Project. He traveled to Copenhagen for the climate negotiations where he spoke at an international press conference and panels on this issue and promoted Maine’s leadership through our weatherization and Regional New England Greenhouse Gas Initiative programs.Alex Cornell du Houx’s efforts on national security and climate change have been mentioned by President Obama and recognized nationally in the media (www.operationfree.net).

Preserving Maine’s Quality of Place –Alex Cornell du Houx introduced legislation to promote renewable energy investment at the Brunswick Naval Air Station and sponsored/co-sponsored legislation to help prevent tarsand oil from entering the state, lead in wheels and recycling of fluorescent light bulbs to prevent mercury from spreading, responsible water extraction, and supported funding for land for Maine’s future, as well as legislation to weatherize every house and half of businesses in Maine.

Healthcare
Alex Cornell du Houx worked for the Governor’s Office of Health Policy and Finance and has been active in lobbying for quality, accessible, affordable healthcare for everyone at the national, state and community level with the Oasis health clinic.

Dental Care — Alex is co-sponsored successful legislation to ensure insurance companies provide dental care for all children by age one, not age four, as by then their teeth and long term health are permanently harmed.

Physical Education – Alex co-sponsored successful legislation to promote physical education in our school system to prevent childhood obesity.

Family Caregivers – Alex worked on and co-sponsored legislation to protect family caregivers with Rep. Walsh Innes to provide for mothers in the workplace.

Community Dental Care – Alex wrote successful legislation that allows retired dentists to volunteer at clinics to provide a much-needed service to the community. Before the legislation they had to pay hefty maintenance fees just to volunteer.

Veterans
Alex is a Marine who deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in 2006 and sits on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. He also sits on the VA Homeless Veterans Working Group and chairs the Veterans Caucus. He is currently taking a commission in the Maine National Guard.

Veterans Education –Alex Cornell du Houx passed legislation to make Maine one of the only states in the nation that allows any veteran to take advantage our quality higher education system at no cost in conjunction with the 21st Century GI Bill.

Homelessness –Alex Cornell du Houx sponsored and passed legislation to evaluate and address the issue of Maine’s homeless veterans and sits on the VA Homeless Veterans Working Group.

Veterans’ Service Officer –Alex Cornell du Houx worked hard with members of his committee to find the funding to hire a veterans’ service officer in southern Maine as the veteran center was closed there and Cumberland and York County have the highest population of veterans.

State Parks –Alex Cornell du Houx was successful in providing free access to all veterans to our state parks and historical sites as a small token of thanks and a chance to relax after returning from deployment.

Women Veterans’ Memorial –Alex Cornell du Houx co-sponsored successful legislation to recognize the heroic efforts of women veterans and provide for a memorial in the State House Hall of Flags.

Military Children –Alex Cornell du Houx co-sponsored successful legislation to join an interstate compact to make the transition easier for children of military members entering new school systems.

Maine Armories –Alex Cornell du Houx passed a resolution to request that Congress provide a higher percentage of the funding to operate our armories as our service members are being utilized at a higher level by the federal government.  Currently, the National Guard sells property to pay for armory upkeep.

Government & Service
Lobbyist Disclosure and Photos –Alex Cornell du Houx co-sponsored and worked on successful legislation in his committee to require all lobbyists to wear name tags and provide a photo of themselves online at the ethics commission’s website.

Native Americans – At the start of his first session, Alex Cornell du Houx worked to change the rules to allow our two Native American representatives to have their names displayed with the rest of the legislature.

Strengthening Clean Elections –Alex Cornell du Houx co-sponsored successful legislation to strengthen our clean election system and make it viable for the future.

Equality –Alex Cornell du Houx co-sponsored legislation to end discrimination in civil marriage and affirm religious freedom.

Non-Profits –Alex Cornell du Houx successfully co-sponsored legislation to allow non-profits to hold larger ticket raffles to benefit the community. Alex also successfully sponsored legislation that allowed retired dentists to obtain licenses to practice in nonprofit clinics.

Click the link below to access via download all successful legislation from 2008-2012.

Conell du Houx Successful Legislation 2008-2012

We all want a strong economy, a healthy place to live, and a clean environment. These are universal goals shared by citizens throughout our nation. No one wants to see a world where pollution is holding back our prosperity.

Sadly, there are those who say pollution is necessary for our economy and we will suffer if we do not allow polluters to continue to dump carbon dioxide into our air without limit. This is an old scare tactic and false choice that has been disprovenover and over.

More than 97 percent of scientists say we are already experiencing human-caused global warming. In the military, if a commander knew there was a 97 percent threat of harm – and did not take action – he or she would be relieved of command.

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to reduce carbon dioxide pollution for power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels. This is a result of the EPA and the courts finding that carbon dioxide endangers public health and should be regulated under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

This is significant because U.S. electric power plants emit about 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, or roughly 40 percent of the nation’s total emissions. Similar common sense limits on mercury and soot, which date back to 1970, have not harmed our economy – in fact they have helped create an environment of increased investment and prosperity. By limiting carbon dioxide we can continue atradition of successfully protecting our health and environment while growing our economy.

There are multiple strategies to limit carbon pollution that will improve our health and economy. In fact the EPA has suggested 50 different ways to implement the proposal. There is no silver bullet solution – rather a silver buckshot strategy gives each state the flexibility to effectively protect their health and economy.

Under the rules, states across the nation have the obligation – and opportunity – to develop a plan to meet the carbon dioxide pollution standards. The state of Iowa is an excellent example as it ranks third in new clean energy production.

State Senator Rob Hogg from Iowa is a leader in combating global warming. During my last visit to Iowa he explained how his state has already experienced unprecedented floods, severe drought, and multiple ecological disruptions over the last 30 years. Iowa’s worst flood in 2008 cost $10 billion. Nationally the frequency of billion-dollar storm-related disasters has increased five percent each year since 1980 according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In addition, nearly half of all Americans live in counties in the U.S. where pollution levels make the air unhealthy to breathe, according to the American Lung Association.

Global warming is not an abstract issue in Iowa or across the nation – it is a reality. Unfortunately, science tells us it is going to get worse until we slow down and stop the buildup of carbon dioxide pollution.

Currently, we limit the amount of many pollutants and toxins, such as sulfur dioxide, mercury, and arsenic, that power plants are allowed to spew into the air we breathe, but there are no limits on carbon dioxide – even though power plants are the single largest source of carbon dioxide pollution.

The idea of setting higher standards to cut carbon dioxide pollution isn’t new – 47 states have utilities that run energy efficiency programs, 39 plus D.C. have renewable portfolio standards, and 10 have market-based greenhouse gas emissions programs.

This is an opportunity to expand on our clean energy success. For example, Senator Hogg explained that Iowa now obtains 27 percent of its total electricity generation from wind, an industry that employs nearly 7,000 people in his state. The use of wind energy led to other economic successes, attracting major tech companies that want to use clean energy. Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft, combined, have invested billions in Iowa in part because they want clean energy to power their operations.

Nationally the solar energy industries report jobs in their industry are increasing faster than any other sector in the United States – by more than 20 percent each year. Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar, supporting workers whose jobs can’t be outsourced.

Working together, we can turn the threat of carbon dioxide pollution into an opportunity to boost our economy, protect the health of our community, and protect our children’s future.

Published in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-cornell-du-houx/we-need-carbon-pollution-rules_b_5454309.html?

The EPA held hearings on clean car standards yesterday and I had the opportunity to testify in support of the new standards that will help move us off our dependence on oil.

When I served in Iraq in and around Fallujah, I came across a line of cars, trucks, and tractors that stretched as far as I could see. We decided to investigate and finally reached the end of the line to find they had been waiting all day in 100-degree heat for gas and diesel. It struck me how dependent this nation was on a single source of energy and how crippled it made them. They were so desperate for this single source of energy that when the curfew set in they essentially rioted against us. It also made me pause and think about how the United States was dependent on this single source of energy as well, and how we are essentially forced to line up to countries like Iran and Venezuela for our fuel.

This is one of the reasons I joined Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations to ensure that we have an energy future that makes us more secure, boosts our economy, and keeps our environment healthy.

Our military leaders have taken note, and the Department of Defense, the nation’s largest energy consumer, has a goal to reduce their carbon pollution 20 percent by 2020. The Quadrennial Defense Review stated, “While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.” The CIA has also opened a center on climate change.

The Army has one of the largest electric vehicle fleets in the world — 4000 vehicles in three years. The Air Force will have 50 percent of its aviation fuel from biofuel blends by 2016. The Marines are aiming for a 30 percent energy reduction by 2015. The Navy is launching the Great Green Fleet by 2016, which includes hybrid destroyers and F18s that run off of biofuels. The Navy also aims to reduce petroleum use in commercial fleet by 50 percent by 2015.

When in Iraq, I saw that our dependency on oil was a constant threat to our security and independence. Our dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to unstable and unfriendly regimes. The Department of Defense has set ambitious goals to reduce our dependence on oil and improve fuel standards because they understand the threat it poses to our nation.

This is not just a lesson for our military. Not only does cutting our dependence on oil make us more secure, it invests hard earned American money back in to our economy. Every day, we are sending a billion dollars overseas to pay for oil, money that could be staying in this country and supporting our own economy. Nearly half of the oil is used is by our cars and trucks. Increasing fuel efficiency will have a huge effect on our national expenditures on oil.

A 54.5 mile-per-gallon standard for cars and light trucks by 2025 is the single biggest step we can take right now to curb this dangerous addiction to oil. It would help my community and countless others around the country improve their economic security. It will keep America competitive with foreign auto manufacturers, many of whom are already operating under higher standards than our own. And it would strengthen our national security, making us independent and keeping billions of our dollars out of the hands of people who don’t have America’s interests in mind.

By implementing these standards, we will be taking control of our energy future and creating a more secure America.

Publsihed in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-cornell-du-houx/epa-detroit-hearing-less-_b_1210902.html?

Welcome Home

After nine years of war in Iraq, every American should be happy to hear that our marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen are coming home to their families and that Iraq is on its way to independence. Personally, I am incredibly thankful that President Obama has stayed true on his promise to get our troops out of Iraq. The president has shown that he is committed to securing Iraq’s freedom and independence, and the Iraqis have shown that they are willing and able now to lead this fight on their own. His foreign policy has built America up again as a powerful force in spreading democracy, whether it is securing Iraq, transitioning in Afghanistan, or helping liberate Libya.

I had the opportunity to experience what happened in Iraq with the Marines in Fallujah. I am thankful that we have done what we came to do, and am grateful to bring our troops home. The day I came home was one of the happiest, not only of my life, but of my friends’ and family as well.

The men and women of our military have, with skill and bravery, brought Iraq back from the brink. Today, they can all be proud of what they’ve accomplished and overjoyed to be coming home. Thousands of brave men and women (4,500) have lost their lives in service to their country over the last 9 years in Iraq. This is an end worthy of their sacrifice.

But the transition is not easy, and President Obama has worked to ensure the move home is the best it can be for our veterans. As part of the American Jobs Act, job-makers could earn $5,600 or $9,600 in tax credits by hiring veterans who have been unemployed for over 6 months. And since President Obama signed it into law in 2009, the Post-9/11 GI Bill has helped 600,000 veterans go to school. President Obama has shown time and again his gratitude for our veterans, and his commitment to their prosperity after they come home.

So thank you, President Obama, for living up to your promises of finishing the Iraq war, defeating Osama bin Laden, and continuing to draw our troops out of Afghanistan. The United States of America has reestablished both its strength and its international reputation. And to our troops returning home, to their families, and to a safe and secure America, Happy Holidays.

Published in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-cornell-du-houx/iraq-war-withdrawal_b_1151059.html?