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Veteran community mourns death of Louise Slaughter

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. - The local veteran community is mourning the loss of one of its biggest advocates in Washington.

Whether it was pushing for new legislation or fixing a paperwork error, veterans around Rochester say Congresswoman Louise Slaughter was someone who always fought to get them more.

“She's just done so many things for veterans legislatively, but her entire office has been so supportive of veterans in this community,” said Laura Stradley, the executive director of the Veterans Outreach Center. “And they have really resolved so many issues for veterans.”

Kanza Williams of Fairport is just one veteran Congresswoman Slaughter helped out.

Williams joined the Army in 1999. By her second year, she became pregnant. Before long, she was a single mother, stationed in Germany and raising a son who had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

“It was just difficult for me,” said Williams.

Williams made the tough decision to leave. But she says the Army was only offering her a general discharge. But Williams felt she deserved an honorable discharge.

Williams says anything else would’ve jeopardized her employment future after leaving the Army.

So, she contacted her local congressional representative back home.

“I wrote (Slaughter) a heartfelt letter, poured everything out on paper, and explained my situation,” said Williams.

Within weeks, Williams received her honorable discharge. She credits Congresswoman Slaughter for that.

“I'll never forget that,” Williams said. “I never met Louise Slaughter, but I knew she was fighter, and she did her job and fights for her people.”

Many in the veteran community, like Williams and Stradley, say they’re hopeful whomever fills the congressional seat will care for veterans as much as Congresswoman Slaughter.

“She certainly embodied patriotism and compassionate leadership, and I think veterans recognized it in her and knew they had not only somebody who would support them and go to bat with them, but also somebody who was their friend,” said Stradley.

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