A lasting sense of duty moved State Rep. Jim Watson, a Jacksonville Republican, to reenlist in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.
He says he increasingly felt the need to do more as his former civil service unit based in Camp Pendleton, Calif., was called to its third tour of duty in the Middle East. “I don’t think we can sit back and let the same guys carry the water over and over and over,” he says.
He’s committed to one year. Starting in July, he’ll attend drill one weekend a month at Camp Pendleton. He served as a U.S. Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserves from 1985 to 1991, including one year in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. If his unit were mobilized back to the Middle East, he says he would be in a combat environment teaching local officials how to run their government, setting up the hospitals or trying to rebuild the infrastructure for an education system.
In the rare event that an Illinois lawmaker would go to war while serving the state, Watson says his constituent services would continue with the help of his fellow lawmakers, Sen. Deanna Demuzio, a Carlinville Democrat, and Rep. Gary Hannig, a Litchfield Democrat.
He says his inner belief in the importance of the overseas effort leads him to rejoin the other service men and women making sacrifices and offering their skills in a time of need. “If we don’t clean this thing up, we’re going to leave just one more mess for future generations, for my kids, to deal with,” he says.
He’s been serving as state legislator since 2001.