Dave Stancliff Veterans finally get debate mention but was it too little too late? blogarama.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Veterans finally get debate mention but was it too little too late?

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The word “veteran” was uttered seven times during Monday night’s debate – each time by President Barack Obama.

Good Day World!

It’s been a couple of days since the last presidential debate and I’m still digesting what was said..and what was NOT SAID about our American veterans.

Romney apparently was advised not to say the word “veteran” by his handlers because he never uttered it in the course of the debate.

At least Obama spoke up about veteran’s needs. It was the first time either candidate said anything substantive since the campaign started.

That, in itself is troubling. I wasn’t exactly encouraged by this late minute charge for veterans since it was spurred by numerous veterans groups who talked Obama’s speech writers into finally saying something. Perhaps they convinced him veterans were an ace-in-the-hole if things started going badly. Here’s an article on the last debate:

“The word “veteran” was uttered seven times during Monday night’s debate – each time by President Barack Obama. Republican nominee Mitt Romney did not use the word although he did say: “We're blessed with terrific soldiers.”

Three times, including his closing remarks, Obama veered momentarily into economic and health concerns facing the tens of thousands of men and women returning from war and those ex-service members trying to crack into the civilian work force. He mentioned recently having lunch with a veteran in Minnesota who, due to medical-certification procedures, can’t simply transfer the skills he learned as a combat medic to become a licensed civilian nurse. And he cited work done by First Lady Michelle Obama on the “Joining Forces” initiative, through which 2,000 companies have hired or trained 125,000 veterans or military spouses.

“After a decade of war, it's time to do some nation-building here at home. And what we can now do is free up some resources to, for example, put Americans back to work, especially our veterans ...” Obama said. “Making sure that, you know, our veterans are getting the care that they need when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, making sure that the certifications that they need for good jobs of the future are in place.”

Those shout outs marked the first substantive attention either candidate has paid to former service members during their three debates – and they came 19 days after a leading veterans group urged the contenders to start discussing some of the home-front costs of two American wars, including a higher unemployment rate among ex-troops and battle-related anxiety symptoms linked to an alarming military suicide rate.

On the day after the final direct, verbal showdown between Romney and Obama, four veterans offered their reactions.

Paul Rieckhoff, chief executive officer and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a nonpartisan nonprofit with more than 200,000 members:

Q: What is the most critical issue facing military members?

A: Unemployment, but we've yet to hear either candidate address the scope of the problem – let alone smart solutions. In September, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was two percentage points above the general public at 9.7 percent, and even worse for female veterans at 19.9 percent. We must do better.

Q: Did you hear what you needed to hear about that issue?

A: In last night's debate, veteran unemployment briefly became a subject of discussion – finally.

Q: What is your takeaway from last night's debate?

A: The new veteran community needs real leadership and commitment from our next president to reverse negative trends in unemployment, suicide and (Department of Veterans Affairs) services. We haven't seen either candidate step up to the plate, so we'll keep asking the tough questions until November 6th.

Jason Thigpen, founder and president of the Student Veterans Advocacy Group and a student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. As a U.S. Army sergeant, he earned a Purple Heart medal for combat wounds he sustained in Iraq in 2009:

Q: What is the most critical issue facing military members?

A: The budgetary cutbacks on defense spending leading to nearly a million service members losing their jobs, which will send them to the unemployment line. Additional cutbacks in veteran-appropriated budgets by way of education and medical benefits will invariably leave many with unfulfilled promises made to them for their service to our nation, while our government creates more lenient guidelines for illegal immigrants.

Q: Did you hear what you needed to hear about that issue?

A: No, but I do feel as though our efforts to raise awareness of the detrimental impacts facing our veterans, and how that affects our national economy, both now and in the future, are being heard.

Q: What is your takeaway from last night's debate?

A: While I'm not enthusiastic about the lack of bipartisan efforts from our federal legislators, (and) neither party looks appealing to me, I personally think the president has wiped the floor with Governor Romney in every debate. Although I've always considered myself a Republican, I don't feel it's in the best interest to elect Governor Romney as president. Electing Governor Romney will give Republicans control of the House, Senate, and presidency, which doesn't seem like much of a democracy to me, especially with a group of federal legislators whom can't seem to agree on much of anything except the end of a work-day or session.”

Read the rest of the article here.

It’s time for me to walk on down the road…

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