A vote for Carmona is a vote for veterans
With the eyes of the nation fixated on the race for the White House, it’s easy to overlook the importance of down-ticket races. Often times, the men and women elected to these offices have more impact on our daily lives than the president. When it comes to the care and reintegration of our nation’s veterans, Arizona is positioned to have a major impact when it comes to the race for the US Senate.
A few weeks ago, Senate Republicans did the unthinkable when they defeated a measure that was designed to help veterans find jobs. According to experts, this bill would have set aside $1 billion over five years to help up to 20,000 veterans gain employment in their communities.
Senate Republicans said they voted against this legislation because of cost. There’s no doubt that we have to address the debt and eliminate wasteful spending. However, the costs of this bill would have been offset by other budgetary set-asides, making this legislation a long-term investment in the success of our veterans.
Additionally, it’s hard to take their criticisms seriously when the bill wasn’t even given a chance to be decided on its merits. Instead, Senate Republicans filibustered the measure into oblivion after it received a majority but failed to secure the 60-vote “supermajority” threshold. The fact that this legislation was defeated on a parliamentary procedure, rather than on the actual substance, only adds insult to injury for our nation’s heroes.
With the unemployment rate among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan above 11%, action is sorely needed. It’s hard to imagine how senators could vote to spend more than $1 trillion sending our men and women to war and then vote against spending a fraction of that amount helping those same men and women reintegrate into society. As Paul Riekhoff, the Executive Director of the nonpartisan Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America noted recently, “Lowering veteran unemployment is something both parties should be able to agree on – even in an election year.”
We should see veterans’ benefits as an investment by our nation in some of the bravest and most talented among us, not as profligate spending or charity. Armed with basic support and a desire to continue serving our country, young veterans are poised to take places of leadership in the public and private sectors. The support our nation provides them when they return home is helping to make this possible.
Many of these men and women will go on to be the businesspeople, politicians, and community leaders of the future. A dollar spent on their training is never a dollar wasted. In fact, according to the American Legion, previous investments in veterans, such as the GI Bill, generated a return on investment to our nation of more than seven-to-one.
Arizona is lucky to have a candidate for the US Senate who understands these issues. Rich Carmona is a disabled veteran and former combat medic. He also served as Vice President of the Defense Health Policy Board. When put next to the record of other career politicians, the contrast becomes clear. Rich Carmona will fight for veterans and ensure that they receive the support they deserve. As the wars wind down and more veterans return home, we need his representation and leadership in Washington.
Michael McNerney is a Truman Security Fellow