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Purple Heart Trail event begins in the Cape

By Staff | May 20, 2016

Southwest Florida Military Museum &?Library in Cape?Coral was the perfect setting Wednesday for Vets4Energy program director Capt. James McCormick (U.S. Army, Ret.) to honor Purple Heart recipients and kick off a four-state tour to draw attention to the Purple Heart Trail in Florida.

McCormick, who received three Bronze Stars, one Silver Star and three Purple Hearts while serving in Iraq, said the Purple Heart Trail system needs more signage to let people know where it is. The trail was established in 1992 as a symbolic system of roads, highways, bridges and monuments to honor veteran Purple Heart recipients.

“All of I-75 is part of the Purple Heart Trail in Florida,” said Jack Wagner, leader of the Military Order of the Purple Heart association in Southwest Florida, which is working closely with the Vets4Energy volunteers.

After Wednesday’s ceremony in Cape Coral, McCormick and the Vets4Energy tour headed north for stops in Florida, the Carolinas and Virginia.

“We have to learn how to wean ourselves off dependence on foreign oil and that’s what Vets4Energy does,” said State Rep. Dane Eagle, who chairs the House Energy & Utilities Committee. “In Florida we are 65 percent dependent on natural gas.”

Vets4Energy’s goal is to work to lift the ban on crude oil exports established in the 1970s during a time of domestic energy scarcity. Their position now, with new drilling technologies opening an abundance of oil and gas resources, energy security equals national security.

“We need to create an economy made in America,” said McCormick. “Two things we don’t want to get from our enemy is food and oil. What are we leaving ourselves open for? If we don’t stop doing what we’re doing (wars) will continue to happen.”

Eliminating the crude oil ban will create a strong economy and generate up to 300,000 U.S. jobs, spur investments, reduce energy costs for consumers and add billions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“We must become an energy independent nation,” said McCormick. “The reality now is that we are in the Middle East a lot. When I was there I don’t remember seeing much more than oil shipping out. They use the money from that oil to launder it back into funding their cause. I’m tired of putting gas in my car and knowing that a few cents is helping buy the bullet that might kill my sons serving over there.”

McCormick got involved in Vets4Energy four years ago after reading an article on energy security. He made a few calls to find out more and one day he received a call asking if he wanted to volunteer to represent West Virginia.

“It made sense to me,” McCormick said. “Right now natural gas is the most efficient, lowest cost energy. It is in such abundance that we need to capitalize on it.”

America’s energy independence also would help strengthen the economy and military for our allies in England, Europe and elsewhere.

“Energy security is within reach and rather quickly if our leaders would only support access to reliable domestic energy sources,” McCormick said. “Sometimes they can’t see the forest for the trees.”

Besides advocating for creating smart energy policies and energy independence, the nationwide network of volunteers at Vets4Energy works to connect veterans to jobs in the oil and natural gas industry.

Just as the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library works to help local veterans in need of counseling, accessing VA benefits, educational opportunities and much more.