MANCHESTER — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar released her plan on veterans’ issues Sunday, visiting a local campaign office and hearing from local veterans at American Legion Sweeney Post 2 that same day to speak on the issues.
Many of Klobuchar’s proposals center on legislation and spending, which are the purview of Congress, not the president.
Much of the policy is based on pieces of legislation Klobuchar has introduced in the Senate, including the 2016 Faster Care for Veterans Act, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program of 2007, and current legislation including the Veteran Access to Care Act and the Burn Pits Accountability Act.
With so much of Klobuchar’s plan focused on legislation, why does she feel it is necessary to run for president to accomplish her goals?
“I’ve done a lot in the Senate, but as President, you are commander in chief. It allows you to take these ideas and put these ideas in action in a way you can’t in the U.S. Senate,” Klobuchar said Friday. “You can get a lot more done.”
The plan includes directing the VA-track service members who have been exposed to toxic chemicals, keeping records of environmental health hazards, and using data on veterans’ use of private care to guide investment in VA services, not in private care.
It calls for ensuring continued funding of Veterans Affairs, and for more support for veterans and their families as they re-enter civilian life — support including job training, help with housing, and adequate mental health services.
Klobuchar was elected to the Senate in 2006, and said the events early in her first term shaped her views on veterans’ issues.
“I was able to see what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, with new veterans coming home. The Walter Reed fiasco, I was there for that,” she said, referring to the 2007 reports of neglect and poor conditions at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.
Klobuchar said she is particularly eager to hear from New Hampshire veterans about the challenges they face finding mental health care as well as housing in Manchester’s increasingly expensive market.
Klobuchar said Friday that President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, which she called “volatile,” has been taking the focus away from veterans.
“The news has been eaten up by various things he’s doing, and there’s been not enough focus on veterans,” Klobuchar said. “It has to be a continuous, methodical focus. This is about the day-to-day work of taking care of our veterans when they come home.”