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Hillary Clinton Calls For Overhauling Veterans Health Care System

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 10/11/2015 Marina Fang
ATHENA IMAGE © Scott Eisen via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday will announce a series of proposals to help military veterans, including an overhaul of the backlogged VA health care system.

"Secretary Clinton believes that supporting our veterans is a sacred responsibility," Clinton's campaign said in a statement the day before the Veterans Day holiday. "As Commander-in-Chief, she will personally commit to fulfilling America’s promise to our veterans, our troops, and their families -- a commitment driven by her recognition not just of the extraordinary sacrifices they make, but also of how essential that promise is to our long-term national security and our vitality and prosperity at home."

In addition to VA reform, Clinton's proposal calls for more funding and programs for addressing mental health issues and homelessness among veterans, and expanding tax credits that encourage employers to hire veterans.

For LGBT veterans, Clinton supports the military "proactively reviewing and upgrading discharge records for veterans who were discharged because of their sexual orientation," under Don't Ask Don't Tell. That policy, implemented by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, prohibited openly gay individuals from serving in the military.

Consistent with her campaign's emphasis on issues involving women and families, Clinton pledges she will adopt flexible family leave policies, ensure better access to child care for military service members and improve reproductive care for female veterans. She also demands zero tolerance for sexual assault in the military.

On Monday, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), unveiled a similar platform that includes more transparency in the VA system and full employment for veterans by 2020. He also called for expunging the records of veterans who were discharged for being gay during the Don't Ask Don't Tell era.

Fellow Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has made veterans care a prominent part of his pitch to voters. So far, his platform is not quite as comprehensive as that of Clinton or O'Malley.

Sanders frequently cites his legislative track record on veterans issues, as a sponsor of veterans-related bills in Congress, and has received praise from veterans groups. While serving as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last year, he helped broker bipartisan legislation to reform the VA system, which continues to be dogged by procedural delays in delivering health care to veterans.

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