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Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Hillary Clinton: Standing Up For Our Service Members And Veterans

March 19, 2008

Today in Huntington, West Virginia, Hillary Clinton met with Brigadier General Jack Yeager (Ret.), Iraq war veteran Michael Morgan, and other veterans at a roundtable meeting to discuss her proposals to honor those who have served our country. She highlighted her plans to right the wrongs of Walter Reed, provide health care and benefits to those who have served our country, and build on her work on the Senate Armed Services Committee to reduce strains placed on our troops and their families.


When Hillary is President, she will make sure that every member of our armed forces will receive a fair shot at the American Dream when their service is over. West Virginia is among the states with the highest number of veterans per capita, with more than 180,000 veterans residing in the state. Hillary will ensure that every veteran in West Virginia and all across America will have health care. She will work so that every veteran receives the benefits they have earned and the assistance they need - right from the start. And she will make sure no soldier ever loses a bonus because he or she has been injured in service. As President, Hillary will:

Enact a GI Bill of Rights for the Twenty-first Century. Hillary will enact a GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century that will resurrect the spirit of the original 1944 GI Bill and offer service members, veterans and their families with expanded education, housing and entrepreneurial benefits. Her plan will guarantee equal access for all components of the Armed Forces -- Active, Guard and Reserve -- that have deployed overseas in support of a combat operation since September 11 or served two years of active duty since September 11. She will fund undergraduate education for service members, as well as education for specialized trade or technical training, and certification and licensing programs. She will make GI educational benefits transferable within families. She will expand the VA Home Loan Guaranty program to allow veterans to use low-interest, no-fee loans to purchase, build or improve a home valued up to $625,000. She will establish a Veterans Microloan Program to provide veterans with no-collateral, low-interest microloans of up to $100,000 for entrepreneurial ventures.

Fully Fund the VA. Senator Clinton believes there is no more important way of honoring veterans than ensuring they can receive quality care through the VA. As President, she will push to have guaranteed funding for the VA. She does not believe the VA should be fighting every year to get money for the people who take care of us.

Provide Affordable and Quality Health Care for All Veterans. In West Virginia alone, over 3,300 servicemembers and veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have sought health care from the VA since returning home. As President, Hillary will ensure that all of the 1.8 million uninsured veterans in this country and the more than 180,000 veterans in West Virginia have access to quality, affordable health care. She will restore the Clinton-era policy that opened the VA's excellent and cost-effective health care system to all veterans who seek to enroll. She will make a long-term commitment to the VA system to ensure it is adequately funded and has the capacity to avoid backlogs and to handle greater enrollments. And she will provide coverage through the American Health Choices Plan to all veterans who choose not to use the VA system.

Ensure All Veterans Receive the Benefits They Have Earned and the Assistance They Need -- Right from the Start. As President, Hillary will commit to getting a fair, accurate, and timely decision for every veteran filing a disability claim. She will increase the number of qualified VA evaluators to reduce the backlog of claims. She will provide fast-track training for new claims specialists and expand the Benefits Delivery at Discharge Program to smooth the transition from service to discharge for all those who serve our country.

Extend Hiring Preferences to Veterans-friendly Contractors. Today, there are between 7.2 and 7.6 million federal contractors, 2 million more than there were five years ago. The privatization of government by the Bush administration has meant veterans are losing job opportunities, because contractors do not necessarily have the same hiring policies as the federal government. Hillary will cut the number of contractors working for the federal government by 500,000 over the next 10 years, saving $10 to $18 billion a year. And she will restore and expand job opportunities for veterans by working to establish a system through which federal contractors afford veterans hiring preference comparable to the federal government's.

Give Veterans Additional Opportunities to Serve. Hillary will make vouchers worth up to $10,000 available to returning veterans who want to serve in AmeriCorps and select not-for-profit organizations. These organizations would provide at least $5,000 to supplement the voucher. This system will help veterans create normal routines and reenter their communities while doing meaningful work serving their country. Hillary will make this subsidy available to as many as 20,000 veterans a year.

Reduce Homelessness among Veterans. In 2006, nearly 200,000 veterans were homeless on any given night. The VA centers in West Virginia offer programs to assist homeless veterans, including homeless outreach workers who counsel homeless veterans and staffs that provide clinical and vocational services to homeless veterans. As President, Hillary will work to ensure that every veteran in West Virginia and the country have homes and receive the care they deserve. Hillary will establish a pilot program on homelessness prevention for veterans that will provide subsidies, eviction prevention, and one-time assistance for veterans who fall behind on their rent. She will also expand rental assistance for veterans by calling on Congress to fund an additional 20,000 housing choice vouchers exclusively for homeless veterans.

Expand the Helmets to Hardhats Program. Hillary will increase funding for the Helmets to Hardhats program. This program links veterans with local job opportunities in the construction and trade industries by offering apprenticeship programs that teach veterans through on-the-job training supplemented by classroom instruction.

Expand Veterans Homeownership. Hillary will make homeownership more affordable for veterans. Veterans will receive a 50% discount on foreclosed properties in the government's inventory, which currently stands at 35,000 homes. And she will eliminate the upfront fees on VA mortgages for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who take out VA loans within two years of leaving active duty.


As President, Hillary will ensure that our troops receive sufficient time at home between deployments to rest, reconnect with their families, and receive appropriate training for their next mission.

Reduce Strains on Our Troops. As President, Hillary will reduce the length of overseas deployments so that for every 12 months our soldiers spend in the field, they will have at least 12 months at home. Our Marines will have a similar standard appropriate for their service in the Corps. She will adopt other readiness standards encompassed in legislation introduced by Representative Jack Murtha.

Assess Impact of Iraq Deployments on Readiness. In the Senate, Hillary won approval of measures to provide greater transparency about the strains on our armed forces, particularly in light of deployments in Iraq. Her amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Act requires the Government Accountability Office to assess the ability of ground forces to meet the requirements of increased force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan and to identify and evaluate strategic and operational risks. Her measure requires the GAO to identify the time required to make forces available and prepare them for deployment.


More than a year ago, news reports revealed the shocking treatment of wounded service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It became evident that these problems were not unique, but represented a broader failure to provide our wounded warriors with the care and benefits they need and deserve. Many problems persist, and President Bush's proposed budget cuts needed programs. The Fiscal 2009 budget released February 5 eliminates the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration; provides only modest reductions in claims processing wait times, from 177 days to 145 to process disability claims for separating service members or veterans; and fails to guarantee funding of the VA, leaving professionals at the Department unsure of next year's budget.

Hillary Clinton will not wait for another Walter Reed scandal to ensure our veterans receive the care they have earned.

Restore and Expand TBI Program. Hillary Clinton joined Senator Barbara Mikulski in writing to President Bush, calling on him to reverse his plan to eliminate the Traumatic Brain Injury Program, which has a been a crucial component of the federal government's system of care for the million of Americans dealing with TBI, including many veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program that was eliminated by President Bush's budget provides grants to states to help them develop systems of care for those impacted by such injuries; these grants are essential components of our national system of care for all Americans impacted by TBI. If President Bush does not restore this program, as President, Hillary will. Hillary will also improve the assessment, detection and treatment of TBI, as well as expand support systems for veterans and their families.

Fully Implement Walter Reed Recommendations. When she is President, Hillary will implement the recommendations of the Commission on the Care for Wounded Warriors, led by former Senator Bob Dole and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. She will implement comprehensive recovery plans for each wounded warrior that provides the right care and support at the right time in the right place. She will streamline the transition from DoD to VA care. She will personally instruct her Secretary of Defense to recruit and retain first-rate professionals to staff our military hospitals.


Hillary Clinton has a long history of fighting for our veterans and will work to ensure our country fulfills its obligations to those who have served and sacrificed for the nation. Hillary has the record and experience to deliver that change.

That's why she has always fought for veterans in the Senate. From tokens of respect, like free postage when you write to a service member in Iraq or Afghanistan. To practical help, like providing expanded access to temporary housing when you move so you don't have to pay out of your own pocket. To the critical work of helping you care for our wounded warriors by expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act and by passing elements of the Heroes at Home Act to help family members care for those with Traumatic Brain Injury. And she will always fight for you as President.

Expanding TRICARE Access. Hillary Clinton crossed the aisle to work with Senator Lindsey Graham to get access to TRICARE, the military health insurance program, for all National Guard members and Reservists, even when they are not deployed. As a result of Hillary's work with Senator Graham, approximately 6,000 members of the West Virginia National Guard have access to TRICARE, whether they are actively deployed or not.

Supporting Service Members with TBI. Senator Clinton authored the Heroes at Home Act, which would establish a program to help families learn how to care for returning veterans with TBI, as well as require DoD to do pre- and post-deployment screenings.

Increasing Survivor Benefit. She worked with others in the Senate to pass legislation to increase the military survivor benefit from $12,000 to $100,000.

Extending FMLA Benefits. She helped pass the Support for Injured Servicemembers Act, which extends the benefits provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by allowing the families of wounded military personnel to take up to six months of unpaid leave to care for their loved ones during the often lengthy rehabilitation process.

Improving TBI Screening and Care. She successfully included a provision in the recently enacted Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act to mandate that the Department of Defense implement a screening protocol for Traumatic Brain Injury within 180 days. The nearly 1,000 young West Virginia citizens that join the armed forces each year, along with members of the National Guard and Airmen from the state, now receive regular health screenings to detect Traumatic Brain Injury, thanks to legislation Hillary introduced. In addition, in 2006, Senator Clinton authored provisions in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 that increased research into ways to improve TBI care for veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Hillary Clinton: Standing Up For Our Service Members And Veterans Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/316899

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