For the past six weeks, I have been traveling North Carolina talking to folks about what the President has done for veterans, military families and our nation's security. Our "Veterans for Obama" group concludes with this Op-Ed:
Beneath the uniform worn by every member of our nation’s armed forces lies a unique story. That is the beauty and strength of our military: it allows Americans from all walks of life to serve their country honorably and rise through the ranks without regard to their status in society.
As members of North Carolina’s Veterans and Military Families for Obama Leadership Council, we represent different personal backgrounds, different branches of the military, and different generations of service. Of all the issues that have been debated in this campaign, there are few on which we all agree. But on November 6, we stand united in calling on our fellow veterans and military families to send President Barack Obama back to the Oval Office for a second tour of duty as our Commander-in-Chief.
Over the past four years, this President has demonstrated he possesses the qualities it takes to be an effective leader. He has kept his word to those who wear our nation’s uniform abroad, and he has kept his promises to them when they return home, recognizing that our support for them cannot end when the conflicts of the day fade from the headlines.
For our troops serving overseas, the President kept his promise to end the war in Iraq. He’s bringing the war in Afghanistan to a responsible end. And Osama bin Laden can no longer threaten the United States.
Just as importantly, he has also kept his faith with the latest generation of heroes as they return home to Fayetteville and other military communities across the country. The President believes that no one who has fought our enemies abroad should have to fight for a job at home, so he introduced tax credits that encourage businesses to hire returning veterans and improved training programs. He also proposed a Veterans Job Corps that would put up to 20,000 veterans to work protecting their communities and preserving our natural resources.
The President has implemented and improved the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which helped nearly 16,000 North Carolina veterans pay for a college education last year. Of course, the President knows that it’s not just service members who sacrifice to keep America safe; their families also bear the burden. That’s why the new G.I. Bill allows veterans to transfer their benefits to spouses and children.
The President also believes that anyone who has fought for America deserves access to the best health care our nation can provide, for wounds both visible and invisible. On the President’s watch, the VA has expanded eligibility for benefits, streamlined the claims process, and hired 3,500 new mental health professionals.
Policies like these should be commonsense, but the reality is that we don’t see the samekind of commitment from the President’s opponent. As governor of Massachusetts,Mitt Romney cut funding for the state veterans agency and tried to end hiring preferences that help veterans find jobs. His first budget would have even cut funding for veterans’ homeless shelters.
Now, Romney is proposing a similar approach for the entire country. Last Veterans’ Day, Romney suggested turning VA medical care into a voucher program, and the Romney-Ryan budget could cut the VA by nearly 20 percent. That’s not the kind of support we need or expect.
On November 6, the choice for North Carolina’s veterans and military families is clear. We should keep moving forward with a strong and steady Commander-in-Chief who understands our concerns and has had our backs since the day he took office. That Commander-in-Chief is President Obama.
State Rep. Grier Martin of Raleigh is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan
State Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville is a veteran of Operation Allied Force in Kosovo
Mayor Chris Rey of Spring Lake is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom
City Councilman Randy Stagner of Raleigh is a veteran of Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia and Operation Iraqi Freedom
City Councilwoman Val Applewhite of Fayetteville is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force
Rye Barcott of Charlotte is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the author of “It Happened on the Way to War”