‘Here for you’: U.S. Representative Martha Roby visits Pike CountyPublished 10:06pm Thursday, June 5, 2014
Election day is like Christmas day to U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, which is why she was disappointed to see such a low turnout at Tuesday’s statewide primary.
The subject came up when Roby spoke with members of the local chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association during a visit to Troy on Thursday.
Roby covered several issues during the meeting at the Half Shell Oyster Bar and Grill. Voter turnout was part of her response to a question about term limits for elected officials.
“Eleven percent of Alabama voters showed up on Tuesday. I think if we’re going to talk about term limits, we have to talk about we, the American people, having the ability to limit terms every two years,” she said.
Roby conceded some politicians had served too many terms, but she said there was value in keeping people with institutional knowledge in congress.
Lee O’Berry, district vice president of NARFE, appreciated that Roby covered so much in her visit with the retired federal employees.
“She covered some areas we are interested in, such as veterans affairs, because they’re issues that affect many of us,” he said.
To solve the immediate problems veterans are having with medical care, Roby suggested allowing them to use the doctor of their choice as an immediate solution while congress worked on a long-term solution.
“We’ve got to get on this right away because we’ve got people hurting and dying as we speak,” she said.
Roby learned that a program allowing outside physicians already exists. Patient-Centered Community Care is a Veterans Health Administration program that offers health care contracts to provide veterans access to inpatient or outpatient specialty care. It also covers mental health, emergency and newborn care.
“In Montgomery, there’s a two-week backlog for mental health care,” she said. “They could be using Patient-Centered Community Care, but they don’t know about it.”
The recent release of Taliban leaders in exchange for prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has pushed the VA overhaul out of the spotlight, but Roby said she would not let it drop until the VA system was fixed.
Roby disagreed with the president’s Bergdahl deal. “We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” she said.
Roby’s concern was for the precedent it set for other prisoners. She also believed the released leaders would continue their acts of terrorism now that they were free.
“I’ve been to Guantanamo. I’ve seen these guys and they are really bad dudes,” said Roby. “It’s obscene what has been done.”
For the last year, Roby has headed one of several committees looking into the Benghazi controversy. Each committee is reviewing a different stakeholder. She was in charge of looking over the military’s involvement. After reviewing unclassified documents, Roby says she has found several holes. Her next task will be a review of classified information.
“This will be a thorough investigation,” she said. “There’s nothing political about this. This is about the search for the truth on behalf of the American people and on behalf of the four lives that were lost there.”
Roby ended her visit with NARFE members the same way she started it. She reminded them of her commitment to listen to and help any of her constituents. “I want you to know I work for you,” she said. “Please reach out to us. Let us help you. We want to be here for you.”
Roby spent the afternoon in Brundidge where she toured Southern Classic Food Group.
“It’s amazing all of the jobs that are right here in Brundidge,” said Roby after the tour. “And the fact that they are expanding is really exciting for this community and the state.”
Mayor Jimmy Ramage arranged the meeting between Roby and Southern Classic Food owner Chuck Caraway. Ramage said he hoped Roby walked away with an understanding of Brundidge’s capacity for growth.
“A town of our size can support industries like Chuck’s, Walmart (DistributionCenter), Supreme Oil and all of the others in our city,” he said.
Roby made a positive impression on Tonia Williamson, a Southern Classic employee. “She seemed interested and willing to try to help,” she said.
Caraway said his was a business that was succeeding in spite of the economy and he was glad to show Roby the facility. He was also happy to see Roby show interest in his business.
“She seemed engaged and seemed to understand,” said Caraway. “And I think it’s important for our people in Washington to understand what the average business or individual is dealing with.”