Invited guests for State of Union

By SARAH COFFEY  |  Jan. 28, 2003 at 10:02 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The following guests sat with first lady Laura Bush in the House gallery Tuesday as President George W. Bush delivered the State of the Union address.

Most of those surrounding the first lady represented key elements of what the president emphasized in his speech.

One seat remained empty. It symbolized the empty place in the hearts of those Americans who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001.

Those sitting with the first lady included Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife, and the following:

Dr. Peter Mugyeny of Uganda. Mugyeny is one of the leaders in the battle to combat the global AIDS pandemic. He is the director of the Joint Clinical Research Center in Uganda, which has pioneered advanced antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS in Africa. He also chairs the Ugandan AIDS task force, which has developed a comprehensive plan for HIV prevention, care and treatment. Dr. Mugyenyi is also the chair of the African Dialogue on AIDS, ADAC.

Henry Lozano, Teen Challenge California, Los Angeles, Calif. Lozano served as director of Teen Challenge from 1974 to 1985. He also runs a group called Californians for Drug-Free Youth. A global ministry with more than 150 centers in the United States and 250 centers world-wide, Teen Challenge helps inform children on the dangers of drugs.

Tonja Myles, Healing Place Church, Baton Rouge, La. Myles is the founder of the "Set Free Indeed Program" of the Healing Place Church. Her personal story involves a journey from crack addiction 17 years ago. A year and half ago, she and her husband began meeting with people with drug, alcohol, and addiction problems on Friday nights at her church. Myles and her husband, now an ordained minister, own a plumbing business.

Sister Maria Fest, Catholic Nuns in Service, Pittsburgh, Pa. Sister Maria is the founder and director of a family support services center at the Sisters of Divine Providence. The program she runs offers intervention and counseling to families suffering from domestic abuse, experiencing illness, or participating in the welfare system.

Lenwood "Lenny" Compton, Mentor, Detroit, Mich. Compton, 22, graduated from Pontiac Central High School and is a senior at Oakland University majoring in education. He hopes to teach math to middle school students. A full-time college student, he is completing his second year as a member of AmeriCorps. As part of his service, he tutors elementary school students in grades 1-3 in reading and writing. He also works at PATH, Pontiac Area Transitional Housing, providing academic help to children in their after-school program.

Dr. Kurt Kooyer, Pediatrician, West Fargo, N.D. Dr. Kooyer, 39, relocated his practice from the Mississippi Delta area, near Natchez, to West Fargo because of rising liability costs in Mississippi. He is a pediatrician involved in the Cary Christian Center, which provides healthcare to underprivileged families and tutelage to home-visiting healthcare professionals.

James and Mildred Beemer, Medicare Plus Choice, Peoria, Ill. OSF Care Advantage provided Beemer care after his 2001 heart attack, and he credits the company's doctors for his being alive today. The Beemer's serve on the Consumer Advisory Committee, which holds service management and quality management meetings evaluating service standards, outcomes of quality and disease management programs, and the effectiveness of health plans.

Dr. Denise Baker, private practice obstetrician/gynecologist, Bradenton, Fla. An OB/GYN, Baker says she stopped delivering babies last September because her medical liability insurance costs were exceeding her annual salary. For many of her patients who were expecting babies, this decision was devastating and forced them to complete their pregnancies with another doctor, she says. She says she also had to release several of her employees due to budget concerns and escalating costs.

John Cochran, co-owner, JS logistics, St. Louis, Mo. Like many small businesses, Cochran includes his company's profits in his individual tax returns. Because most small businesses do not have access to outside sources of equity funding, they typically use their companies' profits to fund growth, including hiring new employees, upgrading technology, or purchasing additional manufacturing equipment.

Greg Hantak, co-owner, JS logistics, St. Louis, Mo. Hantak is a co-owner of JS logistics and similarly includes his company's profits in his individual tax returns.

David Hobbs, assistant to the president for legislative affairs

Air Force Reservist Capt. Maureen A. Allen, Montgomery, Ala. A registered nurse from Montgomery, Ala., assigned to the 908th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Allen served as the senior medical member of a three-member aero-medical evacuation flight crew, transporting combat and non-combat casualties resulting from operations conducted in Afghanistan. She is a qualified flight nurse examiner with over 500 flying hours aboard C-130 "Hercules" aircraft. Deploying to Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan in June 2002, Allen served in the combat theater until her redeployment on Sept. 18, 2002, returning home on Sept. 21, 2002.

Army Master Sgt. Juan Carlos Morales, Holley, N.Y. Morales is a U.S. Army Reservist with the 401st Civil Affairs Battalion (U.S. Army Reserve) of Webster, N.Y. His military occupational specialty is civil affairs specialist (38-A-5X). In his civilian life, he works with the New York State Corrections Unit in Albion, N.Y. He deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Jan. 20, 2002, and returned from Afghanistan on Dec. 11, 2002. He worked there as a civil affairs team member and as an acting sergeant major for 11 months, spending nearly five months at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, and then over six months in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Marine Corps Cpl. Michael Vera, Jersey City, N.J. Vera graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., in September 1998. He transferred to Marine Corps Headquarters at the Pentagon in Washington in February 2000 and was assigned to the Deputy Commandant for Aviation. On Sept. 11, 2001, Vera was less than 20 yards from the impact of the hijacked plane that slammed into the Pentagon, killing 188 people. As the building burned, Vera and a fellow Marine ran back into the building 14 times and were responsible for rescuing a number of injured personnel from the wreckage. He was awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Medal for heroism following the Pentagon attack. Vera works in the Office of the Commandant as a personal secretary. Vera's personal decorations also include the Navy Commendation Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

Doro Koch, sister of President George W. Bush

Margaret Bush, sister-in-law of President and Mrs. George W. Bush

Karen Hughes, guest of Mrs. Bush

David McCullough, 2002 Pulitzer Prize author, West Tisbury, Mass. McCullough, author of "John Adams," has been praised for his "exceptional narrative sweep, his scholarship and insight into American life." He is twice winner of the National Book Award, twice winner of the prestigious Frances Parkman Prize, winner of the Charles Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities, winner of the L.A. Times Biography Prize, winner of the Harry S. Truman Award for Service, an Emmy Award winner for his work in public television, and winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Truman.

Joseph and Kristen Pappano, Sterling, Va. Mr. Pappano works for Hewlett-Packard repairing computers on site at America Online, earning $41,000 annually. Mrs. Pappano works part-time cleaning model homes, earning approximately $18,000. The president's Growth Package would benefit the Pappanos primarily through the child credit. In addition, the advancement of the tax rate reductions and the marriage penalty relief provisions will benefit this couple.

Richard "Bud" Phillip Beck and Georgia Louise Beck, retired couple, Colorado Springs, Co. Under the president's Growth and Jobs Package, the Beck's would reduce their tax bill by about 7 percent. The tax savings would result from an acceleration in the reduction of tax rates, marriage penalty relief, and elimination of the double taxation on stock dividends.

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