7 Examples Of Republican Presidential Candidates Screwing Over Veterans

Each year on Armistice Day (Veterans Day) I think back to that first page of the Kurt Vonnegut book Breakfast of Champions. Few books begin with as much raw and honest truth as it does when talking about what November 11th means.

“I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

“It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

“Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.

“So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

“What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

“And all music is.”

Each year on the eleventh day of the eleventh month I think about not only those who have stood on battlefields but those who have fought for peace like the one Vonnegut describes. Far too many Republicans in our chambers of Congress have fought for neither peace nor those who have fought in the name of peace. These so-called representatives swear and affirm to upload the Constitution of the United States but swear no such allegiance to “we the people,” particularly those who serve. These seven things will help confirm that unfortunate fact:

1. Marco Rubio supported privatizing the VA health care system.

According to CNN,

“A task force organized by Concerned Veterans for America said the VA should begin offering subsidized private insurance to veterans and transform its healthcare department into a nonprofit corporation instead of a government agency. The move comes in response to the scandal involving health care delays and data manipulation at VA facilities first reported by CNN. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, supported the proposed reforms, saying VA health care could improve by adopting the competition and flexibility of private healthcare.”

The last thing veterans need are jacked-up health care prices and prescription meds. The VA has a government related negotiating power that many private companies don’t have on healthcare. There is zero guarantee that veterans wouldn’t ultimately end up paying out-of-pocket for services because of increased costs.

2. Jeb Bush actually tried to privatize parts of the VA health system when he was the Governor of Florida.

According to CNN,

“Jeb Bush’s effort as governor to partially privatize veterans health care services in Florida went so poorly it was ended shortly after Bush left office. That hasn’t stopped the former Republican governor, now in the early stages of running for president, from arguing veterans should be given the choice to see a public or private doctor, with either visit being paid for by the government. ‘All of these government programs should shift to the person who’s receiving the benefit and they should be empowered to have more choices, rather than be told what line you get into,’ Bush said recently in New Hampshire. […] But Bush’s experience outsourcing veterans’ nursing homes in Florida was a case study in privatization’s pitfalls. By the time it was over, Florida officials determined the state could provide higher-quality care at a better price for taxpayers.”

Leave it to a Bush to double down on a failed policy that does nothing but hurt those who have served our country. Way to go, Jeb. No wonder your momma didn’t want you to run.

3. Ben Carson doesn’t think we need the VA system at all.

Ben Carson has said a LOT of crazy stuff, but one of the most terrifying things he’s advocated for thus far is nixing the VA entirely. This comes via Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller,

“World-famous neurosurgeon Ben Carson told WMAL’s ‘Drive at Five Show’ in Washington, D.C. Friday afternoon following VA Secretary Shinseki’s resignation that the greatest problem with the VA system is ‘too many layers of bureaucrats…’

‘The real issue is that you got to get all that bureaucracy out of there and quite frankly, do we even need that system for most of our veterans? Why can they not be served at the local hospitals where they live and not have to drive 50 or a 100 miles to get a to a veterans facility? These are honored people in our society. They should be welcomed at any of our facilities and we should be honored to take care of them.'”

Do we even need that system for most of our veterans? According to the Congressional Research Service, yes veterans actually use it:

“In a given year,” the 2014 report reads, “not every VA-enrolled veteran receives VA health care services. Some veterans may opt not to seek care during the year, while others may receive care outside the VA system, paying for care using private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, the military health system (TRICARE), or other means …”

According to their chart on page three, there were 9,111,955 VA-Enrolled Veterans in 2014. To put that into perspective for Dr. Carson that is a little less than the estimated population of Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and both Dakotas combined.

4. Lindsey Graham lied about seeing some action while serving in the military.

In 1998 Lindsey Graham claimed to be “an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran, although he never got closer to the war than McEntire Air National Guard Base near Columbia where he was a military lawyer.” You don’t get to call yourself a Gulf War Veteran if you didn’t fight in the Gulf War. He ultimately admitted he “didn’t mean to mislead people” but the reality is he was the guy who made wills for soldiers that were about to go die in the Gulf.

5. Voting against spousal benefits for legally married same-sex spouses of veterans.

Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz all voted against an amendment that would “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to ensuring all legally married same-sex spouses have equal access to the Social Security and veterans benefits they have earned and receive equal treatment under the law pursuant to the Constitution of the United States.”

It’s one thing if you hate LGBT people, but by voting against this bill would literally hurt the families of dead soldiers. Thankfully, their colleagues didn’t agree with them. It passed with support from the rest of their senators.

6. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would set aside 3% of all state contracts for veteran-owned businesses.

One of the greatest challenges in transitioning veterans from the battlefield to the job force is finding them work that their training has helped them to do. Because of their honorable service, the US government works hard to help support veteran-run businesses all the time. President Obama signed the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act this summer, but Governor Chris Christie refused to hire them for state projects.

7. Rand Paul doesn’t want veterans to have access to affordable housing.

In July 2011, Paul voted against even considering a bill that would, according to the Congressional Quarterly Today, “provide $142 billion in fiscal 2012 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, military construction, military housing and related operations. The bill also includes $52.5 billion in advance fiscal 2013 appropriations for VA medical programs.” The vote (because this is the Senate after all) passed 89 to 11. Paul was one of the 11 members. It passed the Senate and later the House leaving Paul to look like the asshole he really is.

These are the candidates the Republican Party has put forth to run for President of the United States of America. These candidates want to be the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces that would send men and women to fight and die for their country. The fact that they have little interest in repaying them with an allegiance to their health, well-being and opportunity to prosper is appalling. They should be ashamed.

Feature image copyright by Sarah Burris.