The presidential elections are now a little more than two months away. During this critical time for both major American political parties, will be attacks, criticisms, misrepresentations and flat out lies and it doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum they’re being cast.
President Barack Obama is nearing the end of his four year term in the White House and like any other president before him, has had successes and failures. In last week’s Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney made comments that President Obama hasn’t made the tough decisions during his term of the presidency, although he didn’t specify what decisions he referred to. Yet in his long acceptance speech the Republican National Convention, Mr. Romney never mentions the servicemen who are still in Afghanistan, and reportedly was the first Republican nominee for president to not mention the word “war” in 60 years, which can be construed in a number of ways. Romney did mention America’s veterans once, but not until close to the end of his over 3,200 word speech. It should also be noted that his running mate, Paul Ryan also makes no mention of veterans during his own speech at the Republican convention. Yet despite of the criticisms of Mr. Romney’s acceptance speech, he should be credited for appearing before members of the American Legion in Indiana the day before. But action rather than campaign promises also can be construed in a number of ways.
One of the biggest concerns for members of the military is the proposed budget cut for 2013 and beyond, which includes requiring military families and retirees to pay significantly more towards healthcare. Regardless of whether it’s an election year or not, it is difficult to support a measure that forces active military members or veterans to pay more for services they rightly gained for their sacrifices during their respective tours of service. Yet attacking the current administration for lack of support to the active military and veterans appears to be misguided and grossly inaccurate.
There have been several important new provisions enacted during the current administration’s term. The following are just a few examples of what the Obama Administration has enacted since 2008.
1) Eliminating the unpopular stop-loss policy that forced service members to stay in the military for an extended period of time and establishing retroactive pay for those veterans whose service was involuntarily extended. The administration also limited deployments to one year for every six.
2) Passed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, which provided additional funding for better medical care for veterans and annually study the adequacy and accuracy of VA projections for health care.
3) Created the largest spending increase in 30 years for the Department of Veterans Affairs for improved medical facilities, a $4.6 billion expansion for the VA to help fund more mental health professionals, and improving the health care for traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, creating electronic records for veterans, expanding women veteran’s health care and additional support for suicide prevention.
4) Established more funding for helping bring veterans back into the civilian workforce and the Returning Heroes and Wounded Tax Credit provides businesses that hire unemployed veterans with a credit of up to $5,600 per veteran and a credit of up to $9,600 per wounded warrior veteran. These policies helped bring the unemployment rate amongst veterans in the last three years.
5) Creating the Joining Forces program to help give service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.
Among other provisions or actions under the Obama Administration are: ending the War in Iraq, enacting a Post 9/11 GI Bill, expanding ending the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, ground forces to meet military needs and improve quality of life. There are also plans to lighten the burden of service men and women by increasing military pay, providing quality child care, job training for spouses and expanded counseling and outreach to families. A full list of provision enacted by the Obama Administration can be found here.
Whatever political party gains control of the White House, a top priority must be to continue to support the nation’s active military, veterans, and military families. While there are many who will disagree with the current administration at any cost, to say that the current administration hasn’t made the tough decisions may be saying so simply to deceive the American public.