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Gohmert challenger states case

By Charlotte Stewart
March 13, 2012 at 11 p.m.

In December of 2002, U.S. Army Reservist Maj. Shirley McKellar's commander called her and several other people to a secret mission. She was told to prepare the unit for war.

At the same time, Louie Gohmert, the man she is challenging for a seat in the U.S. Congress, was running for office.

McKellar told her story Tuesday evening to about 50 people at the Gregg County Democrat monthly meeting. She is challenging Republican Gohmert for the District 1 U.S. Congressional seat he has held since 2003.

Both candidates are unopposed in their respective primaries and will meet in November.

While Gohmert was running for office in the newly created Republican-leaning district for Northeast Texas, McKellar was boarding a plane at Kelley Air Force Base in San Antonio, bound for Iraq. She was soon to be back in San Antonio, this time at Brooke Army Medical Center, where she spent 15 months receiving treatment for a non-combat injury she sustained in Iraq.

As a nurse, it was against her nature to receive care, she said. She spent more time giving care than getting it, said First Sgt. Daryl Eddings, who attended Tuesday's meeting and recalled being laden with the task of finding her and making sure she received treatment.

Although McKellar was discharged from the hospital, she still needed medical attention. The nurse clinician was astonished to learn that it would be up to 18 months before the Veterans Administration would be able to take her as a patient.

"I wrote a seven-page letter to (Sen.) Kay Bailey Hutchison," she said, adding the senator shortened her 18-month waiting list to a matter of days.

McKellar said she witnessed many other veterans "desperately in need of health care who just were not getting it ... young men and women who were called up to serve their country and now needed a prosthesis, or wheelchairs."

The former Army nurse said she was appalled by what she saw, and determined to help others in that situation.

"The young men and women who serve are the best and deserve our best," she said to an applauding crowd. Raising her voice to talk above the accolades, McKellar added the words written on her banner, "When we went into the military, we went to serve one country, not two."

McKellar said division of any kind - based on race, religion, political affiliation, philosophy - is destructive, because America's strength is in its unity.

Without naming her political opponent during the hour-long meeting, McKellar said part of the reason America has a $15 trillion debt, is because of the aid sent to other countries. She said the United States can't police the world.

"We cannot take care of everyone's issues around the world. We must take care of America first. Charity begins at home," she said.

"There is nothing wrong with helping our neighbor, but not to the point that it hurts. Not to the point that it breaks us. We must take care of our own house first, then if we have anything left over, we can help our neighbor. Again, charity begins at home," she said.

For information about McKellar, visit



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