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Statement by Governor Richardson on Veterans Day

November 12, 2007

DUBUQUE, IA-- New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Richardson today issued the following statement in commemoration of America's veterans:

"We pause today to honor the brave men and women of our military, especially those who have sacrificed their lives serving their country. We owe each of them and their families a debt that we never can repay; we recognize and pay tribute to those that have given so much. Thank you for your service.

"We also remember our troops deployed around the world, and in particular, those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have the best, most highly trained, and most dedicated military in the world. They have done, and continue to do, everything we have asked of them. In return for their service and their sacrifice, I believe it is incumbent upon every American to renew the sacred promise made to our military men and women.

"We must honor our troops by honoring the principles and qualities that have made this nation great: an unwavering respect for human rights, international law, and above all, the Constitution of the United States. We have lost our way over the past seven years. As President, I will be proud to lead the United States back to its rightful place as a beacon of honor and hope for the world.

"We must not turn our backs on our troops and their families once they leave the active-duty military. In times of peace, the transition from military to civilian life can be challenging. Often their MOS, or military job skill, does not translate to civilian life, and in many cases, their spouses have not worked in years because of deployment abroad. In times of war, the transition becomes much more difficult. The benefits currently allocated to these men and women do not adequately address the mental and physical wounds that war produces; they are grossly inadequate. This is a national crisis that, if not corrected soon, will turn into a national epidemic.

"As a nation, we have an obligation to give our veterans our best, as they have given us on the battlefield. It is a national tragedy that there are a large number of veterans and military families who now are homeless. Inaction in this case equals complicity-- we must take a stand. The Iowa Democratic Veterans' Caucus has produced a platform to address this called the "4 Points of Honor":

  1. VETERANS' HEALTH CARE COSTS AND BUDGETS: Mandatory federal funding for veterans' health care for all veterans.
  2. VETERANS' ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: It is the unwavering position of the Iowa Democratic Veterans' Caucus that the Veterans Administration health care provisions are a contractual agreement earned by veterans. As such, we insist that financial means testing, co-pay, and any or all other devices utilized to exclude or limit veterans' health care benefits be rescinded.
  3. EQUITY FOR RESERVE AND GUARD VETERANS: The Iowa Democratic Veterans' Caucus is deeply troubled and concerned that both Reserve and National Guard veterans are treated differently under the terms of the Montgomery GI Bill than are active or Regular Armed Services veterans. We call on each Democratic Presidential candidate and each member of the Iowa Congressional delegation to review the status of veterans' educational benefits for the Reserve and Guard and bring them to parity with the educational benefits of Regular Armed Services veterans.
  4. VETERANS' SPECIAL MEDICAL NEEDS: The Iowa Democratic Veterans' Caucus supports increased emphasis on the provision of, and delivery of, medical special needs for all veterans. These special needs include services for the following physiological and psychological service-related injuries and disabilities:
    • Mental Disorders (with particular emphasis placed upon, and directed toward, post-traumatic stress disorder);
    • Medical and mental health services specific to Women Veterans;
    • Traumatic Brain Injury; and
    • Orthopedic injuries and amputation services.

"I am proud to endorse wholeheartedly the "4 Points of Honor," and I have included provisions to cover and pay for each of the 4 Points in my plan for Veterans and Military Families. Our nation is facing a critical moment in its history. Those who counsel caution and claim we cannot afford to make these changes to take care of our veterans and families, along with those who take a wait and see attitude to war while others' lives are at risk, do not understand the constituency that always is most affected by war and its aftermath, nor do they understand American history. Americans should consider this a national mission and passionately embrace the opportunity to correct these mistakes while there still is time. As President, I pledge that this will be one of my top priorities."

Bill Richardson, Statement by Governor Richardson on Veterans Day Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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