September 13, 2016
by Jonathan Salant
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. and other House Democrats who formerly served in the military touted on Tuesday their presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, as the better candidate for veterans than Donald Trump.
“As veterans, it was important to stand up,” said Pascrell (D-9th Dist.), who served in the Army and Army Reserve from 1961-66.
Pascrell took aim at Trump’s proposal to let any veteran see a private doctor at taxpayer expense at any time, not just when they are far from a veterans’ health clinic or the waiting time for an appointment is too long.
“I will never accept privatization,” he said.
At a press conference at Democratic National Committee headquarters just blocks from the U.S. Capitol, the lawmakers cited Clinton’s experience as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and her track record of supporting veterans.
They were among the 17 House and Senate Democrats who had served in the military and who signed a letter saying Clinton would ensure that U.S. troops, veterans and their families would “receive the benefits and care they’ve earned in return for their service and sacrifice.”
Democrats also pointed out that Trump said that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, was not a war hero because he was captured, and attacked the Gold Star family of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American who was killed in Iraq.
“We know what we’re doing in supporting Hillary Clinton,” Pascrell said.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been plagued with problems, most notably reports of extra-long wait times at Phoenix VA hospitals while veterans died waiting for appointments.
The president of Morristown Medical Center, Dr. David Shulkin, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June 2015 as undersecretary for health, charged with overhauling the veterans’ health care system.
Trump, who avoided military service during the Vietnam War, has championed the cause of veterans on the campaign trail, criticizing the long wait times at veterans’ health care facilities.
At a July rally in Virginia Beach, Va., Trump outlined a series of steps he said would help veterans. He was accompanied by Gov. Chris Christie, then under consideration for the Republican vice-presidential nomination that went toIndiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Trump said he would allow veterans to seek care from private doctors rather than VA facilities, take steps to fire employees who don’t properly do their jobs, set up a hotline to take complaints from veterans dissatisfied with medical care, and increase mental health professionals to reduce suicides by veterans.
“Every veteran will get timely access to top-quality care,” Trump said.
Posted September 14 2016 at 12:21 PM Permanent Link