Justice for Veterans
Our country spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year buying weapons, funding military bases all around the world, and fighting bloody endless wars. Yet our troops are neglected when they return home. Corporate-backed politicians like Roger Williams have attacked the Veterans Health Administration, starving it of funding and shifting veteran care to private doctors and hospitals who are less equipped to give veterans the care they need. Many veterans are unjustly denied treatment, and many former service members wind up homeless or unemployed.
Our veterans are not disposable. We will defend and rebuild the VA, expand eligibility for VA care, demand equal respect for all who serve, stop deportations of undocumented veterans, end veteran homelessness, and guarantee quality education and good-paying union jobs for all veterans.
Defend and Rebuild the Veterans Health Administration
For years the political establishment has attempted to privatize and defund the VA, pushing veterans to rely on more expensive and less-qualified private sector providers. Nearly 50,000 positions in the VA are unfilled, and many veterans face unacceptably long wait times. The VA’s infrastructure is in dire need of repair.
We will stop privatization of veterans’ health care, fully fund and staff the VA, and end long wait times. Along with Medicare for All, a revitalized VA will ensure that all veterans receive the comprehensive care they need.
Expand Eligibility for Care
Military service members who receive Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharges are currently ineligible for receiving care through the VA. This is a great injustice, especially since many veterans are given OTH discharges for minor infractions (often resulting from PTSD or other service-related conditions). We will change the law to make all veterans eligible for VA care unless they have received a dishonorable discharge, and we will make it easier for veterans to petition to change the character of their discharge determination.
We must also permit members of the National Guard and Reserve to access care through the VA, including crucial mental health care, regardless of whether they have been deployed or served in combat.
Meet Mental Healthcare Needs
One of the biggest crises among service members is a lack of access to quality mental health care. Suicide rates among veterans are well above the national average, and many veterans struggle to receive the help they need for PTSD and other service-connected mental health issues. We will expand access to and funding for mental health care provided through the VA, and we will expand successful programs such as Beyond the Yellow Ribbon and the Caregiver Program to provide in-home care and counseling to veterans and their families. We will also legalize recreational and medical marijuana at the federal level and fund studies exploring the use of other drugs to aid in treating mental health issues.
No service member should have to fear being separated from their family or being deported to another country. We will end the unconscionable practice of deporting undocumented service members, veterans, and military families. We will fight to reunite military families that have been separated by deportation.
Equity for Service Members and Veterans
All military service members and veterans deserve the fullest respect, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We will make sure that veterans can access basic women’s health services through the VA, including fertility treatments and abortion care. We will fight to end sexual harassment and assault in the military, and we will ensure that victims of military sexual trauma have access to adequate care. We will end the VA’s exclusion of medically necessary gender-affirmation surgeries.
End Veteran Homelessness
We will guarantee housing for all veterans and end the shameful crisis of veteran homelessness. In addition to enacting our Housing for All plan, we will improve VA’s housing assistance programs and expand them to serve more veterans.
Jobs and Education for All Veterans
We must make it as easy as possible for veterans to reintegrate into civilian life. We will fight for College for All, which would eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs including at Historically Black Colleges & Universities, Minority-Serving Institutions, and Tribal Schools. We will make it easier to access G.I. bill benefits and to transfer G.I. bill benefits to service members’ children and spouses. We will pass the Green New Deal, guaranteeing every veteran who wants one a good union job.