With the storming of 160,000 Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy 68 years ago today on everyone's mind, and in the midst of an intense political campaign season, it's worth reexamining the positions of both presidential candidates on caring for veterans.
A Gallup poll released at the end of May showed a 24-point lead for Romney over Obama among veterans. During a forum on Mike Huckabee's Fox News show in the middle of the heated GOP primary in early March, Romney delivered strong answers on veterans benefits and serving as Commander in Chief overseeing the U.S. troops:
In another emotional exchange at the Huckabee forum, David McArthur asked the former Massachusetts governor to look him in the eye and promise that if president, Romney would take care of veterans like his son, a veteran who suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
“I want you to know how much I appreciate your son’s sacrifice for our country, and I appreciate your sacrifice, your family’s sacrifice for our country,” Romney said. “To those who put everything on the line, we owe everything they need. And I can tell you if I’m president of the United States, I’ll not be raising co-pays on soldiers that are wounded, on men and women who serve this country. And I will do everything in my power to help your son and the men and boys and women and girls like him.”
Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Co-Chair of Mitt Romney’s Veterans Policy Advisory Group Anthony Principi has said that Romney would be "a president who will ensure that those who have sacrificed so much are now given a chance to find good jobs, live the American Dream, and not be forced into poverty." Principi says Romney will fix an economy that continues to falter, and will keep our nation’s promise to our veterans.
On Memorial Day the Romney campaign released a video honoring vetarans:
The Romney campaign has also been quick to attack the president's consideration for those who have served. Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg told the Washington Times recently that the president has quadrupled health care premiums for military retirees, "quadrupled the number of veterans who have to wait months on end to receive their benefits, and created a jobs environment that has put a staggering 20.2 percent of our young returning veterans out of work.”
The Obama campaign though has been quick to defend against such attacks, and stand up for their record supporting veterans. Spokesmen for the president have told the Times that Romney cut veterans services as governor of Massachusetts and supports a House GOP budget that would “slash” veterans funding by $11 billion.
The reelection campaign notes that in November 2011, the president signed the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, which gives businesses that hire unemployed veterans a credit of up to $5,600 per veteran, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit which gives businesses that hire veterans with service-related disabilities a credit of up to $9,600 per veteran. The president's proposed Beterans Job Corps conservation program claims to put up to 20,000 veterans back to work over the next five years. The Obama campaign also claims the president has also fought to expand and improve benefits for veterans and their families from access to the health care to the education they deserve when they return home.