For years, viewers have seen Leah Messer as a conduit of Teen Mom drama, and for good reason.
She is a reality star. She's had her ups and downs over the years. It goes with the territory.
All of those experiences have helped her grow, however.
Now, Leah is using her lived experiences and that hard-earned wisdom to push for a better future for all Americans.
West Virginian Leah Messer posted a full op-ed in the Gazette-Mail to voice her support for national paid leave.
"With the news that paid leave might be cut from the Build Back Better plan," Leah began.
She emphasized: "I must share my story and its importance to West Virginians like me."
"Although many of you might know me as a cast member of MTV’s Teen Mom," Leah allowed.
She continued: "you might not know that I’ve grown that experience."
Leah wrote that she has grown "into a small, thriving marketing and promotion business."
"And," Leah continued, into someone who now has "three beautiful daughters over a decade later."
She advised: "In moments like these, a robust, universal paid family and medical leave policy would come in handy."
Leah warned: "More than 100 million hardworking Americans have to make the impossible choice."
Leah noted that one third of the country risks having to choose "between a paycheck and critical medical interventions."
This is, among other things, "including treatment for substance use disorders."
"It doesn’t have to be this way," Leah affirmed.
"The national paid leave program initially proposed by President Joe Biden in his Build Back Better package," Leah wrote.
This proposed package "would have supported many of the reasons we need to take time off."
"The plan supported paid leave, parental leave, time to heal from medical surgery, and caregiving," Leah listed.
"Caregiving leave also would greatly support my family," Leah pointed out, "as my daughter Ali has muscular dystrophy."
"It also would have provided up to 12 weeks of paid leave for those seeking addiction treatment," she added.
"Paid leave would be a game-changer for West Virginia families," Leah informed readers.
Leah addressed West Virginians, "too many of whom are currently facing the challenges of substance use disorder."
"West Virginia has the highest rate of opioid deaths in the country," she lamented.
"I am imploring Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to put his support behind this critical program," Leah announced.
"Now might be the only time we can get it done," Leah stated with concern.
"And," she sagely added, "any delay is more lives lost."
Leah added that "this program would support small-business owners like me."
"The current paid leave proposal would be a direct worker benefit funded by the government," Leah laid out.
This would be "so employers who want to do right by their employees, or need to access this time to care or heal themselves."
These employers "would finally be able to afford this critical benefit."
"Paid leave is an earned benefit," Leah described, "that increases workforce retention and promotes more income equity."
"When people are able to return to jobs rather than quit when crises occur, it leads to higher earnings over time," she explained.
Leah added that this is true "especially for the women of color who are, so often, primary caregivers."
"And a federal paid leave program would be critical to the ongoing labor shortage facing small businesses," Leah affirmed.
"Roughly 10.6 million workers left their jobs in the past year," she cited, "because of caregiving responsibilities."
"Paid family leave could help 37% of unemployed Americans return to work sooner," Leah projected.
"We must treat addiction," Leah stressed, "because failure to do so can affect our families, communities, and the overall small-business economies."
"We failed to support marginalized communities during the crack epidemic, and it had a lasting impact on the economies of those communities," she acknowledged.
"And," Leah correctly expressed, "that’s just plain wrong."
"While nearly 20 million Americans suffer from addiction, only 10% of them seek treatment," Leah noted.
"We must remove the roadblocks to recovery," she emphasized, drawing upon her own experiences.
"And," Leah explained, "paid leave is a critical step."
"Lawmakers who have called for action to address the opioid and addiction crises should step up to support national paid leave," Leah wrote.
This is a huge step for "making it easier for people to access treatment."
"We must get paid leave back in the Build Back Better plan," Leah emphasized, "and Manchin can do it."