5 Reasons A Win For Obama is A Win For Veterans

5 Nov

Veterans—mostly older men—currently support Mitt Romney 58% to 34% for Obama. After all, the Republican party has long been viewed as the patriotic, strong-on-defense party. THEY are the patriots! THEY love America. THEY support members of the military and our vets, right?  Wrong. During the past 12 years, their support of veterans has been with words only, while their actions suggest that vets are at the bottom of their political and moral priorities.

Here are 5 reasons why a win for the Obama administration is a win for veterans:

1)  In September, senate Republicans blocked the passage of the Veterans Jobs Bill, sponsored by (D) Sen. Nelson of Florida. This bill was designed to give vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan a leg up in finding good jobs and training in their communities. Why was it blocked? The Republicans said they would not pass a bill that “was unpaid” for. The real reason? It was more important to the GOP to thwart President Obama before an election than to concern themselves with the well-being of veterans.In short, you matter less than the goal of getting the Democrats out of office. http://www.military.com/daily-news/2012/09/20/gop-senators-block-veterans-jobs-bill.html#jivepostlink#community (For the record, however, 5 out of 47 Republican senators did vote for the jobs bill: Senator Murkowski of Alaska, Senator Brown of Massachusetts, Senators Snow and Collins of Maine and Senator Heller of Nevada.)

 2) According to a June, 2012 research report for Congress, between 2000 and 2007, at the height of two wars, VA spending on returning veterans by the hawkish Republican administration was slightly less than has been spent on vets in the first 4 years of the current administration. (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS22897.pdf.)  Even with this increased funding in the VA budget, the backlog of claims and the waiting list for services at the VA remain unacceptable. In 2008, the current administration began a push to move the VA out of the dark ages and into the world of electronic records in order to streamline and expedite care. But this necessary modernization of service delivery to vets would be jeopardized by a Romney/Ryan win. Are you willing to risk a slashing of the VA budget so that they might retain tax cuts for zillionaires?

3) And lest you think, “Well, Mitt Romney is not George W. Bush. He’ll do better”, consider this: Just after July 4rth of this year, Romney named James Nicholson, the former secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs under President Bush, as a co-chair of his Veterans and Military Families for Romney coalition. In this capacity, he would advise a President  Romney on veteran policy. The  trouble is, he resigned from the Bush administration in disgrace in 2007, following criticism for poor treatment for returning vets, decrepit conditions at Walter Reed, a data breach of the social security numbers of 26 million veterans, 3.8 million dollars in top executive bonuses in the VA while veteran’s disability claims languished untouched. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-  dyn/content/article/2007/07/17/AR2007071700701.html But, hey, he already knows his way around the office.

4) Mental health services for veterans have been dangerously slow and inadequate in the face of the number of Vets with PTSD, substance abuse problems, depression and suicidality. It’s hard to come back from a war when everyone around you lives like it isn’t happening.  But the VA under President Obama has just announced the hiring of 1,600 psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses. This isn’t enough. But it is a start.  In 2011, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden launched the Joining Forces program for military families, which continues to make an impact by helping veterans and their families find work and stay connected. Both of these initiatives will go if a Republican administration takes over.

5) Mitt Romney personally takes all the help he can get from the government, paying a maximum 15% tax rate on his fortune because he doesn’t actually work, he just lives off his investments. (By the way, how are YOUR investments doing?) According to him and others, he is just a smart businessman. No harm, no foul. So, how come when you attempt to use benefits that you earned serving your country—whether disability, medicare or a tax break—you are in the 47% who are mooching off the wealthy? Governor Romney labels what you may need now or in the future as “entitlements”, and what he needs as something that he is entitled to, because he is a smart businessman.  The attitude of “if you’re rich, you earned it, if you’re struggling it’s your own fault” can only work against the young people who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with holes in their work history and damage to their bodies and minds.

So, this Tuesday, don’t let the false patriotism of Mitt Romney (the same man who dodged the draft in Paris, France—the father of 5 sons who wouldn’t think of serving in the military) fool you: A vote for President Barack Obama is a vote for veterans.





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