Scott Reske, candidate for U.S. Congress in Indiana's 5th District, was joined today by military veterans to announce his legislative priorities for veterans and military families.
"There are three things we must do to honor our veterans," said Reske. "We must make sure our service members have the best equipment and training, ensure that while our men and women are deployed their families are supported, and we must make sure our veterans are given proper health care and are able to transition back into civilian life when they return home."
Reske said ensuring that our service members have the best equipment and training begins with making sure the federal budget is in line with the needs of the United States military.
"As a Marine Corps colonel assigned to the Pentagon, I saw defense expenditures forced by Congress that were unneeded and unwanted by our military," said Reske.
"With defense spending accounting for half of our federal budget, and in times of budgetary restraints, true military experience by members of Congress becomes even more important. With limited resources, every time we buy equipment for political gain that is unwanted by the Department of Defense, it puts our men and women in harm's way."
Reske emphasized that our service members must be taken care of while they are deployed, but also when they return home.
"Advancements in battlefield medicine have allowed soldiers to survive injuries that would previously have been fatal," said Reske. "Therefore, modern occupational therapy, rehabilitation and other medical advancements must be part of veteran care. For instance, we are now discovering that higher rates of alcoholism, substance abuse and suicide among veterans are linked to undiagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
As your Congressman I will work to expand the resources available for research and programs that will ensure our returning veterans have the health care they deserve."
Reske said he would support the proposed Combat PTSD Act, funding the research to better recognize and treat brain disorders, and increase funding for combat medicine and prosthetic research.
"My personal experience with the VA has been positive," said Reske. "Many people who work for the VA are veterans themselves, and we must make sure VA hospitals have the tools needed to care for our returning veterans."
"After healing our veterans, our next priority is the transition back into civilian life," said Reske. Reske said while unemployment rates among all veterans is lower than the national average, unemployment rates among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is higher.
"No veteran should return from service to face homelessness or unemployment," said Reske.
Reske said he supports the following legislation to aid veterans with their transition back to civilian life:
* Improvements to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, which creates better access to education and will help improve job prospects.
* The Returning Hero's tax credit, which incentivizes firms to hire unemployed veterans.
* The Wounded Warrior tax credit, which doubles the existing credit for veterans with service-connected disabilities.
* Passage of the Veterans Jobs Corps, which helps get veterans jobs as first responders.
"Veterans are highly disciplined, educated and have developed transferrable skills during their time of service," said Reske.
"Often, the problem lies not in qualifications but in marketing. I will introduce measures that aid businesses so that they understand the skills that veterans offer and that veterans can effectively translate those skills into the private sector.
"We must not forget about the military families who have also sacrificed much while their loved ones are serving. In Indiana, the General Assembly has made significant progress in the last few years concerning veterans and military families, and as a state legislator I've spearheaded efforts to support military families. We need to take these common sense ideas to Washington."
Reske authored the Military Family Relief Fund, a program that provides funds for unexpected expenses for families during a loved one's deployment and up to one year after. In addition, Reske co-authored legislation that makes it easier for active duty military family members to transfer professional licenses between states, such as teaching and nursing licenses.
"At a time when we've asked our citizens to step up to serve our country, it is unconscionable that there are proposals to cut resources for veterans, such as cutting thousands of jobs from the Department of Veterans Affairs and making veterans health care a voucher system," said Reske.
"These issues concerning veterans and defense are real to me. You can rest assured that I will not support any conflict that will unnecessarily sends our sons and daughters into harm's way. I am one of the many Americans who have made the choice to serve our country, and on my first day in Congress I will bring almost thirty years of military experience to Washington."
Scott Reske is an Iraq War veteran and retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel, who served as a helicopter pilot while on active duty. He has served his community as state representative, a volunteer firefighter and as a reserve deputy sheriff. Reske is an experienced business owner, who lives in Pendleton with his wife, Jenny, and has three children.