In spite of a lot of debate over the wars, foreign policy, entitlements, and other benefits, precious little has been said about the state of veterans during the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. Aside from recognizing the extraordinary efforts of our troops and extending some rhetorical gratitude, none of the candidates have discussed issues facing veterans’ benefits. However, with well-known backlogs in the veteran claims process, the denials and delays of claims to veterans who have earned benefits for non-service connected ailments, and the growing number of veterans suffering from PTSD and other service-connected benefits, it seems that at least a moment of time should be directed toward discussing these important issues.
Caring for veterans is one of our nation’s most sacred responsibilities. Especially in San Diego, where more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans live than anywhere else in the country and in California more generally, it is important that our elected officials make veteran aid a priority. Next week, I will be promoting outreach to veterans regarding Aid and Attendance benefits. Additionally, a number of other local organizations promote outreach and awareness to veterans. In the Presidential debate season, however, mum’s the word!
During the Vice Presidential debate, each of Joe Biden and Paul Ryan said the word “veteran” only once each in their only 90 minute debate of the season, Biden when saying that many veterans do not pay taxes (responding to Romney’s 47% comments) and Ryan when saying we owe veterans gratitude and the offering of more aggressive military stances so as not to “project weakness.” Indeed, their avoidance of veteran issues was striking given the amount of time spent on Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and defense spending generally.
Similarly, in both Presidential debates (a combined three hours of speaking time), Governor Romney did not say “veteran” a single time, and Obama said it twice during the second debate while noting a tax credit for hiring veterans and noting that veterans are likely among the 47% referred to in Romney’s comments. The Presidential candidates will get another chance next week when they debate their respective foreign policies.
Senator Dianne Feinstein has snubbed her challenger, Elizabeth Emken for a debate and has engaged in very little campaigning overall. As such, her silence on veteran’s affairs is not overly surprising; however, she has advocated for increased funding for veteran’s healthcare and combating veteran homelessness and joblessness. Ms. Emken has not spoken on the issue directly.
The U.S. House of Representatives local election features incumbent Brian Bilbray and his challenger, the Port Commissioner Scott Peters. Representative Bilbray co-sponsored a bill requesting military leaders to confirm that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would not affect military readiness. He also sponsored a bill to create a grant for local Chambers of Commerce to use toward veteran career advice and training. Scott Peters’s policy paper promotes increasing funding for veterans affairs, and particularly promoting mental health services, affordable housing, and job training.
As the war in Afghanistan unwinds during the coming years and more aging veterans require assistance, these issues should come to the forefront of San Diego representatives at both the state and federal levels. In the meantime, you can plan now to have your affairs in order so that when you need benefits, such as the VA Aid & Attendance Non Service Connected Disability Benefit, your claims process can go as smoothly and quickly as possible!
VA Aid & Attendance–How Can I Correctly Choose Help for my Application Process? FREE REPORT: This complimentary report focuses on the various kinds of people one can consult when applying for the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. Who one chooses can mean the difference between success and failure. Remember, if you are denied, you may not be able to reapply for up to a year or longer. Download our complimentary report for a behind the scenes look at the different types of people you can consult and the dirty underbelly of the Veterans Aid & Attendance industry.