Time and again, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney has made clear how out of touch he is with the issues critical to today’s young veterans and enlisted members. In 2010, nearly half of all Active Duty members were 25 or younger and about two-thirds were 30 or younger. The Romney-Ryan ticket shows no intention of supporting the policies we need for our generation and that are crucial for the ongoing success of our country.
Some ways a Romney-Ryan administration would be hostile to veterans and their interests.
Write off veterans as part of the infamous “47 percent.”
- “More than 8.5 million veterans currently get health care through the [Department of Veterans’ Affairs]—an untaxed benefit—and 3.5 million vets are receiving untaxed disability payments, according to VA budget documents. The VA is paying to house homeless veterans at a cost of $1.3 billion. Veterans are currently receiving mental health benefits worth $6.2 billion.” [Huffington Post]
- “Romney’s remarks ‘made me upset,’ ” said Tyler Fultz, 27, who served with the Air Force in Iraq in 2009 and 2010 and now lives in Fort Worth, Tex. “He’s dismissing half the population as being dependent on the government and for essentially being lazy. I do not consider myself one of those. I think that when he made those comments he didn’t realize the groups of people he was including in that 47 percent and veterans are one of those groups.” [Huffington Post]
- “Those young Marines that I led have grown older now. All gave some. Some gave all. That’s not a culture of dependency,” Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said. “They paid. Some with their lives, some with their wounds, disabilities. Some with emotional scars. Some with lost opportunities. Not only did they pay, they are owed. They are owed.” [Washington Post]
Prevent gay spouses from receiving federal benefits.
- At a New Hampshire campaign stop, a Vietnam veteran pressed Romney on his support for the repeal of the state’s gay marriage law. The exchange went viral, but the issue remains critical. “While gays and lesbians can now serve in the military openly after the repeal of the [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell] policy, their spouses are not entitled to federal benefits because of the Defense of Marriage Act.” [Huffington Post]
Turn Veteran benefits into a voucher system.
- “Making a rare trip to South Carolina, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney held a roundtable with veterans, where he suggested that a voucher system might solve their frustrations with the bureaucracy of applying for Veterans Affairs benefits.” [Fox News]
- “[Vice President Joe Biden’s son Beau Biden] also slammed presidential candidate Romney’s veterans’ benefits voucher idea, first announced last Veterans Day. Biden said that with 50,000 veterans coming home wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan in the past 10 years, and more on their way, ‘there is a legitimate debate about the role of government. There should be no debate about our government taking care of our veterans.’ ” [Orlando Sentinel]
Cut existing veteran benefits.
- “Ryan’s controversial plan makes steep cuts even to popular spending categories, such as veterans benefits and transportation. Opponents have said it would disproportionately harm the elderly, the poor and the middle class and would turn Medicare into a voucher system.” [Mankato Free Press]
- While the public perception is that veterans seek care exclusively from the VA that does not hold true.
- “The vast majority of all veterans older than age 65 reported Medicare coverage. … Of those who received some care at the VA, the majority (67.3%) were also covered by private insurance, with 21.4% reporting dual coverage with Medicare. The majority of non-elderly individuals receiving Medicare are disabled.” [NIH]