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O'Rourke Campaign Press Release - Beto O'Rourke Introduces Comprehensive Plan to Support Veteran's Acros America

June 24, 2019

New proposal would end "forever wars" and reinvest savings to ensure every veteran—regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity—has the best care, support, and resources that our country can provide

EL PASO, TEXAS — Beto O'Rourke unveiled a comprehensive plan today that will improve services for veterans who have put their lives on the line to protect our country. A lifelong resident of El Paso, home to Fort Bliss—and a two-term member of the House Armed Services Committee and a three-term member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee—Beto has always believed our Commander-in-Chief has no responsibility more sacred than protecting the security of America and our troops. Grounded in Beto's belief that we must pay any price, and bear any burden, to support all those who have worn the uniform, his plan would bring a responsible end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and reinvest the savings to ensure our veterans have the educational, job training, housing, and wrap-around resources they need; improve veterans mental and physical health care in this country by modernizing the VA so that it is a leader for the rest of the health care system; and ensure that all veterans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and their families, are treated with dignity and respect—and can succeed when they come home.

The full plan is built around a four-part framework:

  1. End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Reinvest the Savings in Veterans by creating a new Veterans Health Care Trust Fund (VHCTF) for each new war we fight, which would be used to fund the medical needs of our veterans—and would be paid for by a "War Tax" that ensures every American who has not served shares some of the cost of going to war according to their means.
  1. Invest in Building a State-of-the-Art Veterans Affairs Health Care System that addresses the widespread problem of staffing shortages; attracts top medical talent; increases research and investment into diseases that disproportionately impact veterans; and establishes the VA as a leader in digital health care practices as well as for mental health care and treatment of opioid addiction.
  1. Provide All Veterans with Equal Treatment by ensuring that women veterans receive the care they need without harassment; LGBTQ+ veterans are honored for their service; veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress or service-related injuries are not unjustly denied benefits for the effects of their injuries; and immigrants can use their military service as a pathway to citizenship.
  1. Ensure Veterans Can Succeed When They Come Home by supporting veterans seeking to improve their employment credentials, own their own businesses or farms, or avoid crushing student loan debt; devoting government resources to preventing veteran homelessness; and expanding the support offered to veterans and their families, including the expansion of "reverse boot camps" prior to discharge, so veterans are equipped with support when they re-enter their communities.

O'Rourke will highlight his new plan on Monday during a roundtable with veterans in Tampa, Florida.

"We must be willing to pay any price, and bear any burden, to provide the full care, support, and resources to every single veteran who served every single one of us, " said O'Rourke. "Eighteen years into the war in Afghanistan, and nearly three decades after our first engagement in Iraq, the best way to honor our veterans' service is to cancel the blank check for endless war—and reinvest the savings to ensure every American can thrive upon their return home."

Over his six years on the Veterans' Affairs Committee and four years on the House Armed Services Committee, Beto did not spend a single day in the majority—but he distinguished himself by working across the aisle to deliver for our nation's veterans.

As a member of Congress, Beto held quarterly town halls with veterans to discuss the challenges facing their community. In response to the unacceptable way his local VA clinic was treating veterans, Beto came up with a plan, with the help of local veterans, to address long wait times and other issues veterans were experiencing at the VA. Beto's plan, which was piloted in El Paso, cut wait times and increased the number of full-time mental health employees in the El Paso VA. His plan also led to breaking ground on a new VA facility set to open later this year.

Beto's successful efforts to improve veteran's mental health extended beyond the boundaries of his own district—and his own party. Beto introduced an amendment that was signed into law to ensure every separating service member receives a mental health screening before returning to civilian life. In 2017, he introduced legislation to expand access to mental health services to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges, which was signed into law, though insufficiently implemented, by President Trump. Additionally, a bill he co-sponsored to prevent veteran suicides was signed into law by President Obama. Beto also secured passage of the Veteran Apprenticeship and Labor Opportunity Reform Act, which helped increase access to apprenticeship programs for veterans, no matter what state they call home.

Beto's plan is rooted in the belief that all veterans, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, should have equal access to high-quality medical treatment and be treated with the utmost dignity and respect deserving of their service. Beto has always been an outspoken advocate for female service members and veterans. In 2013, he co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to create a more transparent process for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault in the military, a reality that disproportionately impacts women. Additionally, Beto signed a letter demanding a review of the VA services provided to women veterans after a damning report in 2014 revealed that the VA was underserving women veterans, including failing to provide adequate services for military sexual trauma. And he repeatedly introduced legislation to address the shortage of health care professionals at the VA.

During his time in Congress, Beto also supported legislation to combat opioid addiction that included updating VA guidelines and authorization of grant funding for veteran opioid abuse reduction programs. That legislation passed in 2016—and in 2017, the El Paso VA was leading the nation in curbing opioid prescription rates.

In 2016, Beto was named "Outstanding House Legislator of the Year" by Disabled American Veterans. He has also won a "National Achievement Award" from Vietnam Veterans of America and was Texas State Vietnam Veterans of America's "Texas Legislator of the Year."

Additional details about this plan can be found at:

Beto O'Rourke, O'Rourke Campaign Press Release - Beto O'Rourke Introduces Comprehensive Plan to Support Veteran's Acros America Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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