Ms. Redlinger asks, “What did Obama do for veterans?” Actually Obama did quite a bit for veterans and active duty military.
1) He provided active combat troops with better body armor.
2) Created a joint virtual lifetime electronic record program for military personnel, in order to improve veterans’ medical care.
3) Put an end to Bush-era stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond their enlistment date.
4) Obama signed and implemented the Veterans Healthcare Budget Reform and Transparency Act, making more money available to enable better medical care for veterans.
5) With congressional Democrats, Obama oversaw the largest increase in 30 years to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
6) Implemented a Green Vet Initiative, which provides funding for training veterans for green jobs.
7) Initiated and signed a recruitment and employment plan to get more veterans into government jobs.
8) Obama oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals.
9) Signed the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, which ensures that military spouses who are forced to move because their spouse is posted for duty can avoid paying state taxes in their temporary residence.
10) Obama convinced Syria to dismantle it’s chemical weapons without firing a single shot or dropping a single bomb.
11) Along with congressional Democrats, not only did Obama reauthorize families of fallen soldiers to be able to visit when the body arrives at Dover Air Force Base, but also provided funding for it.
12) Funded the VA with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans services.
13) Signed into law a bill that provides support, counseling, and breastfeeding supplies to military moms who are covered under Tricare.
14) Signed a bill to expand the availability of housing to homeless veterans.
15) Obama gave the military a pay raise.
President Obama also improved the economy so that returning veterans could find a job. As of December 2016 we had 75 consecutive months of job growth, a record. In April of 2016, new unemployment claims hit their lowest level since November 1973. Obama reduced the federal deficit from 9.8 percent of GDP in 2009 under Bush to 2.5 percent of GDP in 2015. Under Obama the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers paid lower federal income taxes than at any time in the last 50 years.
So while Obama was working to improve the lives of veterans, what did Republicans do?
1) Veterans Affairs Funding Bill, Republicans removed $1.4 billion in veterans services from Obama’s 2016 budget, including $690 million earmarked for direct medical care and $582 million in VA construction projects. As a result an estimated 70,000 fewer veterans will receive needed care.
2) Women Veterans and Families Services Act. This bipartisan bill would have provided fertility treatment and counseling for severely wounded Veterans and their spouses. The bill was killed by Republicans.
3) Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act. This bill was a piece of sweeping legislation that would have expanded health care and education for veterans. The bill was defeated with 41 of 45 Senate Republicans voting against it.
4) Veterans Jobs Corps Act. This bill would have established a Veterans Job Corps to provide gainful employment to veterans through public works projects in their own communities. Republicans blocked the bill because it was unpaid for … while simultaneously proposing a bill to increase military spending with no way to pay for it.
5) Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans with Children Act. This bill would have expanded assistance to homeless veterans with children. Once again this bill was killed by Republicans.
If Ms. Redlinger would like, I can inform her on many more bills that would have benefited veterans but were rejected by Republicans.
Ms. Redlinger asks next if I have given? Well, Ms. Redlinger, as a matter of fact I have given. I proudly served my country for three years on active duty and for five years as a reservist, including a deployment to Iraq, before being honorably discharged. I have been a member of the American Legion for over 10 years. I am also an Eagle Scout and have been an assistant scoutmaster for 20 years.
As far as an apology, well Ms. Redlinger, I will never apologize for using the rights that I have fought and many have died to protect!