Hoosier Heroes: Politicians on leave to serve our military

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Two Indiana politicians know the real meaning of public service – they serve in the Navy, and also here at home.

One’s a Republican state senator. One’s a Democrat, and a mayor.

But now South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg is leaving city hall to serve in Afghanistan.

“I’m an intelligence officer, working on issues related to terrorism,” said Buttigied. “And I have been training to do this kind of work for a long time.”

Buttigieg was scheduled to leave Friday for Afghanistan, leaving his job and his city behind for seven months.

“This is bigger than me and bigger than my career,” he said. “I’ve always felt doing the right thing is good politics and hopefully that proves to be the case right here as well.”

Meantime, state senator Jim Banks is also getting ready to leave the Hoosier state.

Banks, from Columbia City, is also in the Navy. And early next month, he will have to leave the Statehouse for an important training session in Rhode Island.

“I’m leaving on March 9th,” said Banks. “So I’m going to miss the last few days of session. I hate doing that, I hate leaving and not finishing some of the work I’ve been working on.”

But Banks knows it’s part of the job.

“That’s what I’ve dedicated my life to: serving my state in the legislature (and) serving my country in the Navy and I’m proud to do both,” said Banks

And he’s especially proud of his fellow sailor across the aisle.

“He’s a hero,” Banks said of Buttigieg. “That makes me even prouder to be a Hoosier and it does say a lot about our state.”

“I just feel like the opportunity to give something back and make myself useful in that way is something I’m proud of and I’m something I’m grateful for,” said Buttigieg. “We’re so lucky to part of America. We can’t take it for granted.”