Numbers hold significance and can be an indication of an individual’s priorities. December 7, 1941, June 6, 1944, July 20, 1969 and September 11, 2001, all hold meaning in the history of our nation.
While I am not suggesting that the Republican and Democratic Presidential debates that have taken place have the same weight and significance as Pearl Harbor, D Day, the moon landing or 9/11, the numbers they have produced that relate to veterans issues shows that we are not a priority.
Consider these figures:
- Seven – Seven hours is the amount of time that both the Republican and Democratic candidates for President have spent debating the issues.
- Sixty – Sixty Seconds is approximately the amount of time veterans have been mentioned by both parties.
- Two – Two is the number of questions that have been asked of both parties’ candidates. One of which would not have been asked if not for a Gold Star wife pressing the moderator to ask it.
- Six – Only six of the 20 candidates have a veterans platform on their official presidential website.
The focus on the 22 million veterans by those seeking to be Commander in Chief is virtually non-existent. While there are legitimate policy concerns about Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and ISIL, there needs to be an equal discussion about how to best care for the veterans that action in these areas will create.
And now with the President’s decision to halt troop reduction in Afghanistan, the issue of how best to protect our troops on the ground and provide a VA that meets their needs once they return home should be paramount in the minds and in the policy discussions of those seeking to replace him.
Any candidate, Republican or Democrat, who is serious about becoming President of the United States must commit themselves to real support of our nation’s veterans. They and their families deserve clear, specific policy plans. Especially since IAVA members vote at about 94%.
We deserve honest policy discussion and answers to question like:
- How would you stop the outrageous rate of 22 veterans per day dying by suicide?
- How would you reform the Department of Veterans Affairs?
- Would you commit to keeping on current VA Secretary Bob McDonald?
- If not, who would be your choice to lead the VA?
- How would you have reacted to the VA scandal that emerged in Phoenix last year?
- Would you privatize the VA?
Since our founding in 2004, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is, and always has been, a fiercely non-partisan organization. However, we believe issues like those above are too important to be ignored. To do so lets down those who fought so we didn’t have too.
We stand ready to offer our policy recommendations to those Presidential candidates who will listen and have a desire to learn. A few of them have already reached out, but we will not rest until all of them have. IAVA will always look to hold candidates accountable for what they are saying, and what they don’t say.
Oh, one more number:
- Zero – Zero is hopefully the number of upcoming debates to not have significant discussion of veterans and the issues that they and their families face.