State & National Elections is now State & National Politics. Please subscribe, read, and follow!
If link doesn't work: http://statenationalpolitics.blogspot.com/

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have! - Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hillary Clinton Outlines Solutions to Strengthen America’s Military

Touring North Carolina today with native son General Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior retired military officrs, Hillary Clinton will outline solutions to strengthen our military, which has been placed under tremendous strain due to the Iraq War.

After more than five years, the Iraq war has placed unprecedented strains on the American military. The war has claimed the lives of more than 4,000 brave young men and women. Tens of thousands more have been wounded, many with invisible injuries like Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The war has also eroded the military’s strength, straining capacity, and weakening its ability to be prepared for new and unexpected challenges as well as address the growing danger on the forgotten front line in Afghanistan.

The Bush-Cheney-McCain strategy is to continue this failed policy. Hillary will end this war, bring our troops home, and reduce the stress on the men and women of our armed forces and their families. Below is her plan to strengthen the military, bring the troops home, and ensure that veterans receive the care and services they deserve.

Hillary believes we must ensure that we treat the forces we send into battle with honor and respect. Hillary will ensure that our troops receive sufficient time at home between deployments to rest, reconnect with their families, and receive appropriate training for their next mission. As President, Hillary will take the following steps.

Reduce Strains on Our Troops. The war is placing tremendous strain on our armed forces, courting strategic risks posed by a force that is stretched to the breaking point. As President, Hillary will also adopt the proposals of Rep. John Murtha that, for every month they spend in the field, soldiers will be guaranteed one month here at home. Our Marines will have a similar standard appropriate for their service. The Army's policy goals and practice until the Iraq war were to have at least twice as much time at home for active duty soldiers as in the field and at least four times as much time at home as in the field for National Guard and Reserve. As President, Hillary will reestablish these as long-term goals for our armed forces.

End Stop Loss. More than 70,000 enlisted soldiers have been affected by this policy that forces soldiers to remain in the military beyond their contractual time, sometimes by as much as two years. On top of multiple tours of duty and little time at home between deployments, this policy increases the chances for physical and psychological problems, and deters people from joining the military. As President, Hillary will stop this policy and ensure that the Department of Defense abides by its contracts with all soldiers.

Build a Military for the Future. In the wake of Iraq, we need to restore and reshape the military with the future in mind. In addition to fighting conventional wars, the force of the future needs to be able to deal with a wide range of possible scenarios, including responding to conflict in weak and failing states and responding to humanitarian crises. Hillary will direct the Secretary of Defense to give first priority to build the force we need for the 21st century in areas where the need is greatest, including civil affairs, psychological operations, engineers, military police, and linguists.

To strengthen national security and begin to relieve the strain on our armed forces, we need to end the war in Iraq, begin bringing our troops home safely and responsibly, and stabilize Iraq.
As President, Hillary will convene her senior military leadership and will direct them to draw up a clear, comprehensive plan for bringing our troops home, beginning in 60 days. She will pursue a new diplomatic initiative in the region, including convening a regional stabilization meeting early in her Presidency to develop and implement a strategy to stabilize Iraq. Hillary will lead an international effort under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to address the major refugee crisis created by this war. Hillary's plan will also ensure that the United States maintains a small and effective counterterrorism force in Iraq and the region to ensure al Qaeda never gains a capability to attack the United States or its allies from Iraq

Hillary's agenda for the military builds on her record of fighting for veterans. When Hillary is President, she will make sure that every member of our armed forces will receive a fair shot at the American Dream when their service is over. She will ensure that every veteran in America will have health care. She will work so that every veteran receives the benefits they have earned and the assistance they need - right from the start. And she will make sure no soldier ever loses a bonus because he or she has been injured in service. As President, Hillary will:

Enact a GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century. Hillary will enact a GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century that will resurrect the spirit of the original 1944 GI Bill and offer service members, veterans and their families with expanded education, housing and entrepreneurial benefits. Her plan will guarantee equal access for all components of the Armed Forces -- Active, Guard and Reserve -- that have deployed overseas in support of a combat operation since September 11 or served two years of active duty since September 11. She will fund undergraduate education for service members, as well as education for specialized trade or technical training, and certification and licensing programs. She will make GI educational benefits transferable within families. She will expand the VA Home Loan Guaranty program to allow veterans to use low-interest, no-fee loans to purchase, build or improve a home valued up to $625,000. She will establish a Veterans Microloan Program to provide veterans with no-collateral, low-interest microloans of up to $100,000 for entrepreneurial ventures.

Provide Affordable and Quality Health Care for All Veterans. As President, Hillary will ensure that all of the 1.8 million uninsured veterans in this country have access to quality, affordable health care. She will restore the Clinton-era policy that opened the VA's excellent and cost-effective health care system to all veterans who seek to enroll. She will make a long-term commitment to the VA system to ensure it is adequately funded and has the capacity to avoid backlogs and to handle greater enrollments. And she will provide coverage through the American Health Choices Plan to all veterans who choose not to use the VA system.

Ensure All Veterans Receive the Benefits They Have Earned and the Assistance They Need -- Right from the Start. As President, Hillary will commit to getting a fair, accurate, and timely decision for every veteran filing a disability claim. She will increase the number of qualified VA evaluators to reduce the backlog of claims. She will provide fast-track training for new claims specialists and expand the Benefits Delivery at Discharge Program to smooth the transition from service to discharge for all those who serve our country.

Fully Fund the VA. Senator Clinton believes there is no more important way of honoring veterans than ensuring they can receive quality care through the VA. As President, she will push to have guaranteed funding for the VA. She does not believe the VA should be fighting every year to get money for the people who take care of us.

Extend Hiring Preferences to Veterans-friendly Contractors. Today, there are between 7.2 and 7.6 million federal contractors, 2 million more than there were five years ago. The privatization of government by the Bush administration has meant veterans are losing job opportunities, because contractors do not necessarily have the same hiring policies as the federal government. Hillary will cut the number of contractors working for the federal government by 500,000 over the next 10 years, saving $10 to $18 billion a year. And she will restore and expand job opportunities for veterans by working to establish a system through which federal contractors afford veterans hiring preference comparable to the federal government's.

Give Veterans Additional Opportunities to Serve. Hillary will make vouchers worth up to $10,000 available to returning veterans who want to serve in AmeriCorps and select not-for-profit organizations. These organizations would provide at least $5,000 to supplement the voucher. This system will help veterans create normal routines and reenter their communities while doing meaningful work serving their country. Hillary will make this subsidy available to as many as 20,000 veterans a year.

Reduce Homelessness among Veterans. In 2006, nearly 200,000 veterans were homeless on any given night. Hillary will establish a pilot program on homelessness prevention for veterans that will provide subsidies, eviction prevention, and one-time assistance for veterans who fall behind on their rent. She will also expand rental assistance for veterans by calling on Congress to fund an additional 20,000 housing choice vouchers exclusively for homeless veterans.

Expand the Helmets to Hardhats Program. Hillary will increase funding for the Helmets to Hardhats program. This program links veterans with local job opportunities in the construction and trade industries by offering apprenticeship programs that teach veterans through on-the-job training supplemented by classroom instruction.

Expand Veterans Homeownership. Hillary will make homeownership more affordable for veterans. Veterans will receive a 50% discount on foreclosed properties in the government's inventory, which currently stands at 35,000 homes. And she will eliminate the upfront fees on VA mortgages for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who take out VA loans within two years of leaving active duty.

No comments: