Campaign Announces July is Veterans for Obama Month
DES MOINES – Today, Congressman Bruce Braley announced the Veterans & Military Families for Obama Steering Committee. He was joined by two members of the Committee Marc Wallace from Des Moines and Sarah Petersen from Sioux City.
The President knows that we owe our veterans and their families the care they were promised and the benefits they have earned. The Steering Committee will engage fellow veterans across the state about the importance of this next election. They will help lay out the choice between President Obama and Mitt Romney’s plans and what they really mean for veterans and their families.
“The men and women who serve in our military make incredible sacrifices to keep America free and strong,” Braley said. “President Obama understands that the debt we owe our veterans is more than just gratitude – it’s giving them opportunity and care when they return home. That’s why he’s worked so hard to jumpstart veterans hiring, improve educational opportunities, and strengthen mental health care for our vets.”
· Kept his promise and ended the war in Iraq. When he took office there were over 140,000 combat troops serving in Iraq; today there are none.
· Refocused our efforts on dismantling and defeating Al Qaeda, brought Osama bin Laden to justice and began bringing our troops home as we transition security responsibility to the Afghan people.
· Signed two tax credits into law to encourage businesses to hire unemployed veterans and those with service-connected disabilities.
· Implemented and improved the most comprehensive educational benefit for veterans since the original GI Bill of 1944.
· Boosted the Veterans Affairs budget to ensure that as record numbers of veterans enter the VA health system they receive timely access to the highest quality benefits and services.
· Made it easier for veterans suffering from PTSD to get the benefits he or she needs and every VA medical center provides services for veterans suffering from PTSD.
· Ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Our military is stronger and safer now that patriotic gay men and women no longer have to live a lie in order to defend the country they love.
“The President knows that we have a sacred trust with our veterans and their families the care they were promised and the benefits they have earned,” said Petersen. “That’s why he is committed to ensuring that veterans can find work when they return home, receive the health care and benefits they’ve earned and have the chance to get a college education through the post-9/11 GI Bill. As millions of our servicemen and women return home from war, now more than ever we must fulfill our duty to them.”
From providing education and job opportunities for our veterans to ensuring they have the health care they deserve, President Obama will fulfill our commitment to our service members.
“Veterans know President Obama has their backs – but they’re left to wonder what Mitt Romney would do as Commander-in-Chief,” said Wallace. “Romney doesn’t seem to care about honoring the sacred trust America has with veterans and their families. Judging from his record, policies and promises, he would break that trust. In Romney’s 160-page, 59-point plan for jobs and economic growth, veterans weren’t mentioned at all. Not once.”
· As Massachusetts governor, Romney cut veterans’ programs by hundreds of thousands of dollars in his first month in office, and he even tried to cut the funding for veterans by more than 11 percent in his first budget.
· The Congressional Republican budget, which Romney endorsed as "marvelous" would -- if applied across the board -- slash funding for Veterans' Affairs by $11 billion a year
· Romney suggested privatizing veterans’ health care making veterans use vouchers to buy health care – even though that would leave many veterans unable to pay for the essential health care they earned and need.
As part of today’s Steering Committee launch, the campaign announced that July is Veterans for Obama Month. Campaign staff and volunteers will show their support at 4th of July parades and events this week. Additionally, veteran-to-veteran phone banks will be hosted to allow people to share their stories and to share the accomplishments of the Obama Administration in providing for those who serve. Iowa veterans and family members will arrange and host local events and house parties to bring veterans together to celebrate their service, discuss the next election, and get them involved in the campaign. The first event will take place in Polk County on July 19.
The members of the Veterans and Military Families for Obama Steering Committee include:
· Billy Langham, Ames: Retired Air Force Master Sargent who worked in the NSA and spent 15 years overseas; in countries including Italy, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, Korea, and England. Upon returning, he worked in manufacturing and project management.
· Lucas Beenken, Belmond: Served in the National Guard and used the GI Bill to attend Drake University. During his senior year, Lucas was deployed to Iraq. He went on to complete his Master’s Degree at Drake and was elected to the Wright County Board of Supervisors. Lucas led the Pledge of Allegiance at the President’s grassroots event in Des Moines this May.
· Art Heyderman, Bettendorf: Served 3 years active duty, including a tour in Vietnam, and for 27.5 years in the Reserves. Art was a member of Corps of Engineers, working in both research and development and as a nuclear weapon specialist and spent many years as an Army civilian.
· Will Overstreet, Cedar Falls: A life-long Iowan, Will is a member of the Iowa National Guard. He was deployed to Afghanistan, and currently is a teacher with the Waterloo School System.
· Jerry Huffman, Cedar Rapids: Served 20 years in the U.S. Army, serving in many locations including the Aleutian Islands, Japan, Korea, Turkey, and Honduras.
· Amanda Irish, Coralville: Enlisted in the Marine Corps weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, feeling compelled to serve her country. Amanda is a leader of the University of Iowa Veterans Association and is currently pursuing a B.S. degree in human physiology and pre-medicine.
· Sam Reno, Des Moines: From 1990 to 1996, Sam served in the United States Marine Corps, assigned to the Rock Island Arsenal Recruiting Command and 4th Marine Division General Support Maintenance Company. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree from Drake University and is a Neighborhood Team Leader for OFA in Northwest Des Moines.
· Marc Wallace, Des Moines: Served in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps and the Iowa National Guard. Marc is a prosecutor in the Marion County Attorney’s Office and the Iowa Public Defender’s Office. In 2008, Marc was the State Chairman of Iowa Veterans for Obama.
· Ron Healey, Dubuque: Served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971. Ron is retired from Deere & Company and has been working with veterans through the UAW veterans group and the Veterans and Military Families for Progress, which is concerned with suicide prevention and issues facing returning service members.
· Stan Klein, Lu Verne: In 1965, Stan went to Vietnam on the U.S. Army’s 3rd plane into the country. He served as a Captain in Vietnam for a year and remained in the Guard Reserve for 23 years. He currently is farming in Northern Iowa.
· Jake Krapfl, New Vienna: Served in the U.S. Army, seeing two tours of duty in Iraq as a Paratrooper. He is currently an English and writing instructor at Northeast Iowa Community College.
· Terry Phillips, Riverside: Joined the Navy at 17 in 1965 and was based in Hawaii and served on a number of ships in a communications capacity. Terry returned to graduate from the University of Iowa and started his own business as a contractor.
· John Pomberg, Salem: Served in the Navy from 1967-1988 in the Tonkin Gulf, Persian Gulf, Southern Atlantic, and Caribbean on air craft carriers and destroyers. John currently works for the Iowa Department of Corrections.
· Larry Olk, Sheffield: Served in U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1968 in the 2ND Field Forces. Larry is retired from a civilian military career and serves as the Franklin County Democrats Chair.
· Sarah Petersen, Sioux City: Military wife whose husband served two tours overseas
To learn more about Veterans & Military Families for Obama go to www.barackobama.com/veterans.