"A top priority for me is to take care of our veterans and I would do that by saving money elsewhere."
Many politicians talk about honoring our veterans and their sacrifices. Yet so often the rhetoric obscures the reality that the federal government treats veterans badly. Congress wastes billions of dollars on countless unconstitutional programs, but fails to provide adequately for the men and women who carry out the most important constitutional function: national defense.
Any nation willing to ask its men and women to risk their lives serving overseas must also be willing to fulfill the promises that were made to them when they enlisted in our country's service. We cannot provide adequate care with a VA that is run like the IRS.
One of the most shameful ways our veterans are mistreated is in the area of concurrent receipt benefits. Existing federal rules force disabled veterans to give up their military retirement pay in order to receive VA disability benefits. Every VA disability dollar paid to a veteran is deducted from his retirement pay, effectively creating a "disabled veterans tax". No other group of federal employees is subject to this unfair standard; in every other case, disability pay is viewed as distinct from standard retirement pay.
Ultimately, we can best honor both our veterans and our current armed forces by changing our foreign policy to one that serves America's interests. Today's soldiers are our future veterans, and they should never be sent to war without clear objectives that serve definite American national security interests.
* Reforming the VA to make sure that it efficiently provides affordable care and benefits to our veterans.
* Giving employers a tax credit for hiring veterans.
* Narrowing the pay gap that exists between military and private sector pay scales.
* Restoring health care coverage to retired service members and reducing their out-of-pocket costs.
* Establishing a House Select Committee on POW and MIA Affairs.
* Fully investigating the causes of Gulf War illnesses and providing all necessary treatments to veterans suffering from those illnesses.
* Immediately ending the requirement that disabled veterans give up their military retirement pay in order to receive VA disability benefits.
Having served in the U.S. Air Force for five years, I feel an obligation to our veterans and current armed forces. As a congressman, I have fought and will continue to fight hard to make sure veterans receive the care and respect they deserve.