By:  Joe Sherman

As the November election approaches, televisions in battleground states continue to blast divisive political commercials and propaganda to sway any undecided voters.  The debates are fiery and combative, the two candidates agree on few occasions.  But both candidates have shown support for veterans and their issues, with each unveiling an agenda for strengthening veteran privileges and benefits.  However there is a striking difference as to how each candidate would approach the problems and solutions because Obama offers more money while Romney recommends revamping the Veteran Affairs bureaucracy.


Obama has affected multiple policies touching on veteran issues since taking office in 2008.  First and foremost, he has delivered on promises to withdraw troops from war zones.  Over 140,000 troops have returned from Iraq, and the President maintains that all troops will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.  Obama has proposed aggressive policies to increase veteran participation in the private workforce, improving the health care available to veterans, and offering more educational benefits.  Tax credits are offered companies that hire veterans to pull private interest, while the Department of Labor pushes online services and one-stop shop career service centers for veterans to utilize.  Obama signed an executive order to improve mental-health in the military by hiring more professionals and launching a national anti-suicide campaign and accompanying study.


Romney approaches the issue from another angle, identifying the inefficiencies at the VA level and resolving to fix systemic problems.  The candidate articulates that the waiting period for claim resolution and medical attention are unacceptable and proposes to accelerate technological integration for medical records and consultations.  His efforts to revamp the stressed bureaucracy promises to hold leaders accountable for mismanagement, a point that is not mere rhetoric in wake of the recent reports that lavish conference spending has cost the VA budget $10-15 million in the past year alone.  Another notable difference is that Romney supports access to mental health care through the military’s TRICARE network of providers at the VA expense.


The differences between each candidate’s plan for veteran policy are overshadowed by the similarities.  Both realize the community interests at stake in veteran welfare issues, and both want to improve the job prospects, mental health, and education of our nation’s warriors.  The fundamental divide between Obama and Romney is how they approach the problem.  Obama is offering more carrots to voters by means of incentives and services, while Romney prefers the stick by promising to crack down on inefficiencies that plague the system.


For more information, compare the plans:


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