I am disappointed that the Louisiana legislative auditor and inspector general have decided to spend taxpayer dollars smearing the good name of the best advocate for our veterans, military and their families we in the state of Louisiana have ever had on our side.

My son Austin served in the Louisiana National Guard attached to 1st Cavalry. Austin served in Iraq and died after his immune system was compromised because of exposure to hazardous military burn pits.

Our family did not know of the burn pits and their hazards until two years after Austin died, nor was Austin informed of the dangers. Had the doctors known he was immune compromised, my son might be with us and his 8-year-old daughter today.

To honor his memory and help other veterans, I strongly advocate for burn pit research and awareness.

I had no success in advocating for change until I met David LaCerte. He listened to our problems and suggested action; he drafted and passed the first state law mandating outreach and a database for veterans exposed to hazardous burn pits.

This initiative forced the federal government into finally implementing the federal burn pit registry, potentially saving many lives and laying the foundation for peer-reviewed research. Several states have now taken his lead and passed this same bill, while many others are in the process of introducing similar legislation. Other officials in Louisiana failed us, but the accessibility and dedication of LaCerte will undoubtedly save lives. He has been a godsend for veterans and the Blue and Gold Star communities on dozens of similar issues plaguing our military and veteran families. I know the character of LaCerte, and I know how the LLA and IG have sifted through hundreds of contracts and second guessed thousands of managerial decisions in order to seek headlines and validation of their agencies.

Even worse, to dishonor a veteran’s military record without delving further into the facts is simply disgusting. This type of tabloidish behavior is shameful, a poor use of taxpayer dollars and will only repulse good people from public and military service.

Alice Daniel

Gold Star mother

Baton Rouge