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VFW Magazine October 2016 : Page-18

HILLARY CLINTON: VA: “We are not going to privatize VA. We are going to reform it and make it work for every single veteran in America.” ISIS: “… We need to lead other countries in stopping ISIS, al Qaeda and other radical jihadist groups … We shouldn’t leave that to the rest of the world to figure out on its own—that won’t keep us safe.” SPOTLIGHT ON VFW’S 117TH NATIONAL CONVENTION IN CHARLOTTE, N.C., took center stage in the national media in July. Contenders for the Oval Office squared off on topics such as privatizing VA health care and combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Here is a look at what each candidate plans to do if elected president. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PUT Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump addressed VFW delegates on VA TO REMAIN PUBLIC, SAYS CLINTON AND TRUMP B Y T HE E DITORS PHOTOS BY Robert Knudsen Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton called for VA reform: “We are not going to privatize VA. We are going to reform it and make it work for every single veteran in America.” Her specific VA health care plan includes: • Ensuring access to “timely, quality care.” • Enhancing the coordination of care and improving benefits for women vet-erans—specifically, better reproductive health services and extended child-care options. 18 • VFW • OCTOBER 2016

Presidential Candidates Put Spotlight On VFW Issues

HILLARY CLINTON:

VA: “We are not going to privatize VA. We are going to reform it and make it work for every single veteran in America.”

ISIS: “… We need to lead other countries in stopping ISIS, al Qaeda and other radical jihadist groups … We shouldn’t leave that to the rest of the world to figure out on its own—that won’t keep us safe.”

DONALD TRUMP:

VA: “VA will remain public because it is a public trust.

… Veterans will have the right to go to a VA facility or the right to see a private doctor or clinic of their choice, whatever is fastest and best for the veteran.” ISIS: “We need to change our foreign policy to focus on defeating and destroying ISIS.”

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump addressed VFW delegates on topics of greatest concern to veterans.

VFW’S 117TH NATIONAL CONVENTION IN CHARLOTTE, N.C., took center stage in the national media in July. Contenders for the Oval Office squared off on topics such as privatizing VA health care and combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Here is a look at what each candidate plans to do if elected president.

VA TO REMAIN PUBLIC, SAYS CLINTON AND TRUMP

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton called for VA reform: “We are not going to privatize VA. We are going to reform it and make it work for every single veteran in America.”

Her specific VA health care plan includes:

• Ensuring access to “timely, quality care.”

• Enhancing the coordination of care and improving benefits for women veterans— specifically, better reproductive health services and extended childcare options.

• Expanding VA mental health services to end the “epidemic” of veteran suicides.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, accompanied by his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, called for a complete VA transformation: “The veterans health system will remain a public system because it is a public trust. That means veterans will have the right to go to a VA facility or the right to see a private doctor or clinic of their choice, whatever is fastest and best for the veteran.”

Trump also presented his vet plan:

• Appoint a qualified secretary to “clean up” the Department of Veterans Affairs.

• Create a private White House hotline that will be answered 24 hours a day for veterans to voice specific VA complaints.

• Increase the number of mental health care professionals and outreach to those outside of the system.

• Ensure veterans have more timely access to care.

NATIONAL SECURITY PRIORITIES

Emphasizing that America has “the world’s greatest military,” Clinton said the commander-in-chief’s most “solemn” responsibility is sending troops into war.

“I have visited our troops in theaters of war and tension,” she said. “I know how serious this is. Force must only be used as a last resort.”

As President, the former secretary of state wants to “increase pressure” on North Korea, “stand up” to the Chinese in the South China Sea and “work with Russia” to reduce its nuclear stockpiles.

To accomplish her ends, she said she would rely heavily on diplomacy: “It’s often the only way to avoid conflicts that can end up exacting a much greater cost.”

Trump referred to our country’s military as depleted, saying it must be “completely re-built.” Once he overhauls the armed forces, “from a position of strength,” Trump would reach out to other nations.

“America needs to extend our hand in friendship to foreign nations who want to be our friends, and we can’t be taken advantage of by these countries that we work so closely with,” he said. “Many of these countries are taking advantage of us. We want to be friends, but they also have to be friends with us. We want a more peaceful future for our world, but peace will require new approaches.”

DIFFERING VIEWS ON ISIS

In addressing the Islamic State’s acts of terror, Trump said American foreign policy must change to defeat and destroy ISIS. He said the world’s perception of U.S. “weakness” has allowed the Islamist terror network to thrive.

One element in Trump’s plan to combat ISIS is more stringent screening of refugees.

“It’s essential that we suspend the refugees from Syria and other dangerous countries so we don’t bring into the United States the same terrorism that our American soldiers are fighting overseas,” he said.

Regarding Islamist terrorism, Clinton said “we need to lead other countries in stopping ISIS, al Qaeda and other radical jihadist groups.”

She added: “We shouldn’t leave that to the rest of the world to figure out on its own—that won’t keep us safe. We have to protect ourselves against terrorists.”

JOBS CRITICAL

Touching on employment, Clinton said she would crack down on companies that discriminate or prey upon veterans. “They should be ashamed of themselves, and we are going to hold them accountable,” she said.

She also would expand tax credits for firms that hire vets. Clinton called for better certification and credentialing programs, as well as expanded employment for military spouses.

Trump said he would make sure that veterans are given priority when it comes to hiring practices.

Calling the North American Free Trade Agreement a “disaster,” Trump promised to keep jobs and wealth in America.

“We are sending our jobs away,” he said. “We are going to keep our jobs in America, and we are going to bring new jobs back.”

In concluding her remarks to delegates, Clinton said presidential candidates should be as specific as possible when outlining their proposals. They also “should be held accountable” for “delivering results,” she said.

“I know a lot of vets still feel invisible, powerless, like their country has forgotten them. It’s unacceptable, and we have to work together to make sure we end that. This is something that I care deeply about.” Veterans deserve a President who will honor their service with deeds, she stressed.

Telling the crowd it’s time to “reject the doubters,” Trump concluded with a plea to follow the example set by veterans “who work together across racial lines, across income lines, across all lines in unity of mission and purpose. Nobody does it better than veterans.”

VA: ‘SAME-DAY ACCESS’ EXPECTED BY DECEMBER

VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald highlighted the progress his Department is making in the transformation to better serve veterans. He noted that 13 of VA’s top 18 executives have been hired since he became secretary, and eight of those are veterans.

He said VA is collaborating with “world-class institutions” such as Johnson & Johnson, USAA, Starbucks, NASA and Kaiser Permanente to offer the best services possible for veterans.

McDonald addressed the network of 67 Community Veterans Engagement Boards (CVEBs), saying he hopes to have 100 across the country by year’s end. CVEBs strive to use as many community assets as possible to meet the needs of veterans within the community.

“If there’s no CVEB in your community, let’s make it happen,” he said.

With 9 million enrollees, VA offers “whole veteran health care,” McDonald said. That means VA provides alternative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, sports, music, writing and art.

“We embrace what works,” he said. Regarding access to care, the secretary said that 97% of appointments are completed within 30 days of a veteran’s preferred date; 86% are completed within seven days; and 22% are completed the same day. The average wait time for primary care is five days; six days for specialty care; and two days for mental health care.

“By December, you can expect same day access in primary care and same-day access in mental health care,” he said.

MIA SEARCH IS A ‘DAUNTING TASK’

Fern Sumpter Winbush, acting director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), reported there are still 83,000 unaccounted for Americans, some 50,000 lost at sea. She called it a “daunting task” to resolve their fates and return their remains. She said she hopes 2016 will be a record year for identifications.

Winbush said she knew “firsthand the leaders in DPAA are fully committed” to accounting for those missing in action. She said for the first time in 10 years, a task force will work with Russia to jointly locate remains.

An at-large member of VFW’s Department of Virginia, Winbush said her agency is now working with colleges and universities to get graduate students to come on board for research projects. The Afghanistan veteran also discussed using Next Generation DNA Sequencing to test DNA samples that previously failed with traditional sequencing methods.

“I’m confident we have the right procedures in place to continue immeasurable positive momentum,” Winbush said of DPAA’s future identification efforts.

VFW AWARDS RECOGNIZE COMMITMENT

Armed Forces

Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Robertson, on behalf of the Army’s Green Berets

For their service as small-group special operatives.

Americanism Award

Scott LoBaido

For his work in painting the U.S. flag on thousands of schools, fire houses, police stations and VFW Posts.

Hall of Fame Award

Rob Riggle, actor/comedian/veteran

For his work entertaining troops through the USO and as a war correspondent for The Daily Show.

Smart/Maher National Citizenship Education Teacher Awards

Jessica Marie Mosley, Donna Kregelka and William Ellery

For their invaluable efforts in instilling citizenship and patriotism in the students they teach.

Fred C. Hall Outstanding Community Service Project

John Gilbert on behalf of Post 2485 in Angeles City, Philippines.

For its work in maintaining Clark Veterans Cemetery, Philippines.

VFW Recruiter Award

Ken Kraft named VFW National Recruiter of the Year for recruiting 328 members.

VFW Service Representative Award

John Barrett, Accredited Service Representative of the Year. For his 11 years as New Hampshire’s only service officer and currently working on 450 pending claims.

Distinguished Service Medal and Citations

John Stroud for service as past VFW Commander-in-Chief.

Bill Bradshaw for his 30 years of employment with VFW’s Washington Office.

CONVENTION HIGHLIGHTS

► Student Veterans of America: Jared Lyon, president and CEO of Student Veterans of America, said the organization now has 1,400 chapters with some 550,000 members. A member of VFW Post 3308 in Tallahassee, Fla., Lyon said there are 1.1 million veterans pursuing higher education. “We envision a future brighter than our storied past,” he said. He thanked VFW for its work in getting the Post-9/11 GI Bill passed. “No matter what we needed, VFW was there for us,” he said.

► USAA: CEO Stuart Parker, a member of Post 76 in San Antonio, said his company has hired 10,000 veterans or their family members in the past 10 years. He said USAA’s goal is to hire enough veterans or their family members to comprise 30% of its staff.

► National Desert Storm War Memorial: Scott Stump, CEO of the National Desert Storm War Memorial, said the group is considering locations in the D.C. area, including one on the Arlington, Va., side of the Potomac River. Stump, a VFW life member of Post 748 in Knox, Ind., said VFW was the first vets group to provide support when it donated $100,000 last year as part of a $500,000 pledge. He thanked the VFW Departments of Pennsylvania, Texas and Tennessee for the combined $14,500 in donations raised at their Department conventions.

► D. G. Yuengling and Son, Inc.: Jennifer Yuengling, vice president of operations for America’s oldest brewery, based in Pottsville, Pa., presented $100,000 to VFW. The donation is the result of the brewer’s #LagersForHeroes program, which is promoted at restaurants, retailers and bars across the country. Yuengling said the donation represents the beginning of a “multi-year” partnership with VFW.

► Twisted X Boots: Prasad Reddy, president and CEO, presented VFW with a $75,000 check.

► VFW’s Vander Clute Memorial Ride: It raised over $47,000 for VFW programs.

► Snowball Express: Buck Kern, executive director of Snowball Express, and Dalia Ballester, managing director of customer care for American Airlines, thanked VFW for its $30,000 contribution. Snowball Express provides a free vacation for children who have lost a parent during military service.

► Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.): He outlined his initiative to raise money for PTSD research and treatment. Called “Stamp out PTSD,” the project entails creating a postage stamp that would sell for more than a first-class stamp, the difference going to the program.

► Department of Arizona: Achieved 49 consecutive years of membership growth.

► Henry Repeating Arms: President and owner Anthony Imperato presented then-Adjutant General John Hamilton with a special edition Henry Military Service Tribute Rifle.

Read the full article at http://digitaledition.qwinc.com/article/Presidential+Candidates+Put+Spotlight+On+VFW+Issues/2573541/333680/article.html.

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