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Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Veterans Issues?

For those who have been watching the Presidential debates (or gleaning the information from the hilarious Saturday Night Live skits – special kudos to Larry David and whomever plays Ben Carson), you might have noticed the lack of emphasis on veteran issues.

To address this, a news site for veterans, Task & Purpose, recently used the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization’s annual 11-point policy agenda as a benchmark to rate the 2016 candidates’ platforms and comments about the most pressing issues facing veterans. These comprehensive policy areas, and which candidates have spoken up, are as follows:

  • Combatting suicide among troops and veterans. Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with a proposed policy to combat this issue.
  • Improving care and services for female veterans. Candidates Jeb Bush, Clinton, Mike Huckabee, and Marco Rubio have made positive comments about the integration of women into the military and include plans to provide services for them.
  • Protecting veterans’ legacy. Only Bush and Rubio have fleshed out some ideas regarding the preservation of the all-volunteer force through the funding of advanced technology and supporting nonprofit organizations.
  • Modernizing the government to work for today’s veterans. Trump intends to “make the VA great again.” Clinton plans to create a number of bureaucratic entities to examine the VA and hold it accountable. Ben Carson, who once worked as a doctor in a VA hospital, believes the VA should be merged with the Defense Department. (As a side note, if Ben Carson is elected President, I will move to Canada).
  • Defending veteran and and military education benefits and programs. Many of the candidates support protecting education benefits from for-profit universities. Some, like Clinton and Bernie Sanders, hope to expand the use of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits. Sanders’ platform, however, contains few concrete policy plans.
  • Employing the new greatest generation. Clinton supports expansion of the G.I. Bill without real specification. Rubio wants to be the president that advocates for vocational training to be covered by the G.I. Bill. Bush also hopes to expand G.I. Bill money to include small business loans.
  • Investing in the health care of tomorrow. A number of Republican candidates are pushing for the privatization of military health care. Carly Fiorina suggested the use of texting apps to streamline VA processes. Rand Paul has been outspoken on his views about legalizing marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Supporting military families. O’Malley and Rubio suggest tax relief for military families. Chris Christie has made comments that he hopes to create a support network for them. Clinton intends to increase flexibility in relocation and education benefits, though doesn’t specify a policy plan to do so.
  • Ending veteran homelessness. Very few candidates have mentioned this. This might, however, be because the VA’s plan to end veteran homelessness by the end of the year 2015 has resulted in no more homeless veterans, as promised. (Wait, it didn’t? But the VA said it would!).
  • Promoting equality for all troops and veterans. There are a number of Republican candidates who would like to reinstate the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Ted Cruz does not believe the military should be a social experiment. On the other hand, Bush, Clinton, O’Malley, and Rubio support a diverse, all-volunteer force.
  • Honoring the services and sacrifices of veterans and their families. As with the homelessness issue, there has not been significant commentary on this.

While this information does make me feel more secure in the candidate I’m supporting, I also know that words are words. We need a President who can take action to protect our veterans, but which one would that be? If you have an opinion, please weigh in below.

To access Task & Purpose’s study, as well as its complete infographic, click here.

*Did you find this article informative? If so, sign up for Sarah Schauerte’s legal blog on veteran issues at: http://www.leglmeetspractical.com. Remember to click the link sent to your email to activate your subscription!

5 Responses to “Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Veterans Issues?”

  1. I found this very informative as I am a firm supporter of our veterans. I haven’t watched any debates so am poorly informed as to the candidates stands on veterans needs. I found it surprising that Trump has not made many comments concerning the vets except to say that he is going to make the VA great again????? No explanation. Just vague statements, as usual.

  2. I don’t like any of the RNC/DNC candidates, which is why I vote 3rd Party. Gary Johnson is my candidate and he is from the Libertarian Party!! You should post his views on the issues too.

    Ben Carson: Why don’t you like the good doctor?

    PS: Least Canada has good bacon….

    • I usually don’t speak up on the candidates (People on Facebook get riled up!), and I’m sure Ben Carson is a lovely person and wonderfully gifted in the field of medicine, but I’ve watched the debates (where he is often off-point and/or incomprehensible) and read a lot of articles where he espouses his (very generalized) views, and it’s clear he’s completely unequipped to be President. But this is a democracy, so if people want to vote for him, that’s their choice. I’m sure others feel strong dislike about who I’m supporting, too. Just a matter of respecting opinion.

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