Huffpost Politics
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sergeant First Class Vincent Staub Headshot

How to Really Support the Troops: Stop the Politics of Dysfunction

Posted: Updated:

I was a proud member of the Army Reserves for 25 years, giving over my weekends and going through deployment because I love my country and believe in our Constitution. One of my toughest battles, however, was fought in the courts of the United States, not on a battlefield. And one of my most important weapons was Patricia Millett -- President Obama's nominee to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

My supervisors at the hospital where I worked thought that my weekend work as a military reservist and my deployment as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom was a big inconvenience to them. They punished me for fulfilling my weekend reserve training by scheduling me for extra shifts without notice. After I was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom to help train medics in setting up field hospitals to save soldiers' lives, my bosses' hostility to my reserve status grew even more and they fired me. I tried to enforce my rights against such discrimination. The jury ruled that I had been illegally discriminated against, but an appeals court overruled it. The Supreme Court was my last chance to vindicate the rights of Reservists everywhere. My case was one of just 87 the Court agreed to hear in 2010-2011 out of thousands of petitions. I never would have gotten there--and won--without Patricia Millett.

I had been working at a hospital. I serve in the Army Reserve. I'm just an ordinary soldier from Illinois. I never thought I'd be going all the way to the Supreme Court. I definitely can't afford a lawyer like Patricia Millett, one of the most accomplished Supreme Court lawyers in the country. But that didn't matter. She volunteered her experience and expertise to help me for free. Patricia is a military spouse. She understands the kind of sacrifices made every single day by our servicemen and women and their families. Because her husband was a reservist who had been through deployment too, Patricia knew firsthand the challenges of deployment and the importance of protecting service members against discrimination when they return, and she made sure the Supreme Court understood that too.

Now I want to fight for her against the do-nothing politics of the Senate filibustering of her nomination. Patricia is one of the smartest, most qualified people I have ever met. She's a brilliant, dedicated lawyer. Everybody recognizes how smart and talented Patricia is--from seven former solicitors general including Ken Starr (a former D.C. Circuit judge himself) to President Obama who nominated her and even to Senator Ted Cruz who discussed her "very fine professional qualifications."

I can tell you that they are more than "very fine." I know, because I saw her legal skills up close and personal. She helped write the briefs that convinced the Supreme Court to take my case. She worked to get the United States government to intervene on my behalf. Then she worked on more briefs to present my arguments to the justices of the Supreme Court. She worked with my lawyer to help prepare him for arguing in front of the Court. And we won, 8-0.

Patricia Millett is passionate about helping military families. She's also passionate about the law. I know she is fair-minded. Her legal work is completely non-partisan--she hasn't just represented soldiers and employees like me, but employers, businesses big and small, and the government. She has served this Nation both as a military spouse and as a public servant in the Justice Department in both Republican and Democratic Administrations. She works with the homeless, and mentors other military spouses and veterans.

In fact, no one disputes Patricia is eminently qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit court. Instead there is political squabbling about numbers of judges on the D.C. Circuit. That misses the point. The D.C. Circuit is one of the most important courts in this Country and has particular importance to the military, veterans and military families. It and the country would benefit greatly from the fair-minded perspective and extensive legal experience of Patricia Millett.

So to the members of the U.S. Senate, I say: if you want to really support the troops this Veterans Day weekend, turn off the destructive partisanship and come together to do what is best for veterans and military families. Put one of our own on the D.C. Circuit. Give her the up or down vote that she deserves.

Sergeant First Class Vincent Staub is a resident of Peoria, Illinois, a 25-year veteran of the Army Reserves, and the successful party in the Supreme Court case outlawing discrimination against military reservists, Staub v. Proctor Hospital (2011).