Issue Position: Veterans
"Keeping faith with those who serve must always be a core American value and a cornerstone of American patriotism. Because America's commitment to its servicemen and women begins at enlistment, and it must never end."
-- Barack Obama, Speech in Kansas City, MO
August 21, 2007
The Obama-Biden Plan
As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Barack Obama has fought to end benefit disparities, bring homeless veterans in off the street, strengthen mental health care, add billions of dollars in additional Department of Veterans Affairs funding, and reform a system that often places barriers between veterans and the benefits they have earned. Obama and Joe Biden will ensure we honor the sacred trust to care for our nation's veterans.
A Sacred Trust
Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to creating a 21st Century Department of Veterans' Affairs that provides the care and benefits our nation's veterans deserve. They will:
* Allow All Veterans Back into the VA: Reverse the 2003 ban on enrolling modest-income veterans, which has denied care to a million veterans.
* Strengthen VA Care: Make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible. Improve care for polytrauma vision impairment, prosthetics, spinal cord injury, aging, and women's health.
* Combat Homelessness among Our Nation's Veterans: Establish a national "zero tolerance" policy for veterans falling into homelessness by expanding proven programs and launching innovative services to prevent veterans from falling into homelessness.
* Fight Employment Discrimination: Crack down on employers who commit job discrimination against guardsmen and reservists.
Help for Returning Service Members
Obama and Biden will improve the quality of health care for veterans, rebuild the VA's broken benefits system, and combat homelessness among veterans. They will:
* Ensure a Seamless Transition: Demand that the military and the VA coordinate to provide a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life.
* Fully Fund VA Medical Care: Fully fund the VA so it has all the resources it needs to serve the veterans who need it, when they need it. Establish a world-class VA Planning Division to avoid future budget shortfalls.
* Fix the Benefits Bureaucracy: Hire additional claims workers, and improve training and accountability so that VA benefit decisions are rated fairly and consistently. Transform the paper benefit claims process to an electronic one to reduce errors and improve timeliness.
Improved Treatment for Mental Health and TBI
Obama and Biden will improve mental health treatment for troops and veterans suffering from combat-related psychological injuries. They will:
* Improve Mental Health Treatment: Recruit more health professionals, improve screening, offer more support to families and make PTSD benefits claims fairer.
* Improve Care for Traumatic Brain Injury: Establish standards of care for Traumatic Brain Injury, the signature injury of the Iraq war.
* Expand Vet Centers: Expand and strengthen Vet Centers to provide more counseling for vets and their families.