Elizabeth Warren veteran suicides, promises to overturn Trump’s trans military.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiled a wide-ranging plan Tuesday to improve care for America’s veterans, active-duty service members, and their families, proposing to end discrimination toward LGBTQ, immigrant, and HIV-positive troops while substantially increasing the number of staff employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Her campaign’s suite of ideas comprise Warren’s most comprehensive statement yet of how she would approach the persistent problems ailing Americans in uniform, including unsafe housing, unreliable health care, and mental illness. But the plan includes few details on how much it will cost or how the burden will be split between the Pentagon and VA.
“All three of my brothers served, so I know the responsibility we have to our service members, military families, and veterans,” she wrote in a Medium post introducing the plan. “I will honor our troops not only by executing sound military strategy, but also by caring for our veterans after they take off the uniform.”
Since joining the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2017, Warren has increasingly made reforming the Defense Department a key part of her policy platform. Her campaign has already released plans to curb the influence of defense contractors and decrease the military’s carbon footprint, but Tuesday’s policy rollout addresses veterans’ issues that have stymied presidents from both parties.
Among Warren’s top priorities is mental illness, a problem that has grown more urgent as suicide rates among active-duty personnel reached historic highs last year and veterans remain twice as likely to die by suicide as civilians. Warren vowed to cut veteran suicides in half within her first term. To do so, she proposes targeted research into the causes of suicide and hiring more mental health specialists at VA hospitals.
Will Goodwin, a US Army veteran and director of government relations for VoteVets, a progressive advocacy group, says Warren’s plan crucially did not limit its focus to just the VA, but covered issues like military housing and the scourge of America’s endless wars, which formally fall under the purview of the Defense Department but still affect how long veterans are deployed and how they transition to civilian life. “Military family readiness is hugely important to that,” he says. “The more time people spend away from their families can affect their transition to civilian life afterward.”
For military families, Warren would invest in child care centers at military bases and create a bill of rights for tenants of military housing. She would also reimburse military spouses for costs associated with changing jobs when their partners move between bases. Her plan calls for working with community nonprofits to treat veterans living with addiction and investing in programs to connect veterans with jobs and education through the GI Bill. Her campaign would not specify how much these new policies would cost, but in some cases, existing Warren policy ideas would just be extended to veterans. She already supports canceling student loan debt and making public college free, moves that should help veterans seeking higher education after leaving military service. But her plan would also empower the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau to ensure that veterans aren’t cheated or defrauded out of their GI benefits.