Monday, July 18, 2011

From the House

Bluffton Today

We finally got some relief from the heat and drought here in the Lowcountry with the welcome rains of last Thursday and Friday. Out where we live, the landscape seemed to issue a collective sigh of gratitude when the rain finally began to fall and the summer heat momentarily tapered off.

Speaking of relief and gratitude, my good friend Jeff Fulghum is back in Bluffton after another year’s deployment in Afghanistan. You may remember that I have written about Jeff from time to time over the years, not only because he is a great fellow and a good friend, but because he exemplifies so many of the aspects of personal courage and service that I admire. Modest almost to a fault, he told me his finest achievement was making sure all fourteen soldiers under his squad leadership are now safe at home. This was in spite of a year’s worth of tough patrols and missions, with more than a few enemy engagements.

When Jeff says that things were tough, my sense is that was something of an understatement, given the fact that he spent some time in Mississippi on his way back home having neurological exams for combat wounds. His vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) on May 28, and he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, concussion, smoke inhalation, and will probably have significant hearing loss. I’d say that qualifies as tough duty.

At a time when we hear far too much from blowhard chicken hawks and sunshine patriots of various stripes, Jeff Fulghum is a genuine patriot who stepped up and did hard, hazardous, and heroic service in a faraway place that is alien to our beautiful Bluffton in every way imaginable. For his efforts, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, high honors both.

Jeff is back in Bluffton, so when you see him, be certain to shake his hand and let him know how proud we are of him and how thankful we are for his service.

Finally, the session should wind up in the House the week of the 25th with some added visibility on reapportionment. At this time, it looks like the House of Representatives remap will be pretty close to what you have read in this column. However, the state Senate and the federal House of Representatives are still in flux.

After what has been a particularly difficult and protracted session, I am looking forward to spending more time in the office and talking with you about what we need to be preparing for the next go-round as we reconvene after the first of the year. As much as I have come to enjoy the back and forth of politics in Columbia, my greatest pleasure is still listening to the folks back in the Lowcountry. If I can help bring a new business or manufacturing plant to our area, I feel like we’ve made progress. If I, or my staff can help a constituent find the right person to help them with a state benefit problem, it’s a win. If I can help lower your taxes, or resolve a regulatory issue, it’s a win. It just reminds me why we call it the House of Representatives.