Mason City, IA -- During a town hall meeting in Mason City, U.S. Senator Barack Obama today outlined his plan to ensure that the United States keeps its sacred trust with our nation's veterans when they return home from war. Obama's comments came in the wake of reports the Veterans Administration (VA) has been lagging in making needed improvements it promised after deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center became public.
"It's not enough to lay a wreath on Memorial Day, or to make a speech on Veteran's Day," Obama said. "When a veteran is denied health care, we are all dishonored. When 400,000 veterans are stuck on a waiting list for claims, we need a new sense of urgency in this country. And when we've got young veterans of a misguided war in Iraq sleeping on the streets of our cities and towns, we need a change in Washington."
Obama said that he will improve medical care for veterans and help eliminate bureaucratic backlogs that delay disability claims by making sure that every service-member has individual electronic medical and service records that immediately transfer to the (VA) system. Obama also said he will hire additional VA claims raters and set up programs to get homeless veterans off the streets.
Obama said that he will improve medical care for veterans and help eliminate bureaucratic backlogs that delay disability claims by making sure that every service-member has individual electronic medical and service records that immediately work with the (VA) system. Obama also said he will hire additional VA claims raters and convert all veterans' benefits paperwork into electronic records to speed up applications. Finally, Obama said he will establish a zero tolerance policy for vets falling into homelessness.
"As President, I won't stand for hundreds of thousands of veterans waiting for benefits. We'll hire additional claims workers," Obama said. "We'll bring together veterans groups and the VA to work out a claims process that is fair and fast. And instead of shutting veterans out, we'll make sure that our disabled vets receive the benefits they deserve, and we'll allow all veterans back into the VA health care system. And we'll have a simple policy when it comes to homeless veterans: zero tolerance. We'll expand housing vouchers. We'll set up a new supportive services program to prevent at-risk veterans and their families from sliding into homelessness. We'll stand with veterans in their hour of need, just as they have stood up for us."
Senator Obama is a member of the U.S. Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.
Obama also announced Friday that he will begin airing a new television ad in Iowa featuring Former Air Force Chief of Staff General Merrill A. (Tony) McPeak.
To view the ad, please click here: "Gulf"