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My Turn: New Hampshire can and must do better for veterans

We all agree that the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country deserve to be treated with dignity and appreciation when they return home. Unfortunately, the recent VA scandal and high unemployment rates among young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are painful reminders that we are falling short of our duty to take care of these men and women.

I served in the Army National Guard for 35 years. Last month I retired as a colonel, so I know about the challenges our service members and their families face while serving our country and what happens when they re-enter civilian life.

It’s pretty simple: No one should go to fight for America overseas, only to return home and have to fight for respect here.

This starts with providing opportunities to our veterans for good-paying jobs. The economy is still weak – it actually shrank by nearly 3 percent in the first quarter of 2014. The unemployment rate among veterans remains consistently higher than that of their civilian counterparts, especially for those veterans who signed up to serve after Sept. 11, 2001.

In the Senate, I co-sponsored the Hire A Hero Act to offer tax credits to businesses that hire veterans. This law passed in 2011, but expired in 2013 and it needs to be permanently reauthorized to incentivize job creators and help veterans enter the workforce. Getting this done will be a top priority for me as New Hampshire’s next senator.

The recent VA scandal has exposed the chilling truth of gross mismanagement and lack of oversight, which has led to scores of veteran deaths while waiting for care. This deadly record is shameful and completely unacceptable. On my watch, I would demand that employees responsible for the misconduct in the system are immediately dismissed. I would also insist that performance bonuses for VA employees, which encouraged administrators to cover up their ghastly record, are banned entirely.

For the VA system to work properly, it needs to be more transparent. That means making the VA’s inspector general reviews available to both Congress and the public and utilizing modern technology to expedite the process. Veterans should have the option to schedule appointments online, using a secure system that protects patient records from cybersecurity attacks and online hackers.

Although New Hampshire has the fifth-highest concentration per capita of veterans in the country, we are the only state in the lower 48 to not have a full-service VA hospital. Some veterans must drive hours to neighboring states to see a doctor, in addition to waiting up to 90 days to schedule a medical appointment. This is totally and completely unacceptable.

In 2008, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen criticized Sen. John E. Sununu for not delivering a full-service VA hospital, yet during her six-year term she has failed to make any progress on this promise. While I would continue to fight for a full-service hospital, I also believe we need a new approach. For veterans living in rural areas, I support increasing access to health care by allowing those who live more than 30 miles from a VA medical center to seek care at a non-VA facility. This common sense solution utilizing private doctors and facilities will reduce travel time and expedite scheduling – ensuring veterans see a physician on a timely basis.

I know we can do better for the men and women who put their lives on the line in defense of our nation. New Hampshire veterans deserve the best care possible and should be first in line to obtain stable employment after they have served our country.

Protecting our veterans is a fight that is personal to me. If I am fortunate enough to be elected your next senator, I can assure each and every Granite Stater that I will work tirelessly for our veterans and make sure they are given the respect they have earned.

(Scott Brown is a candidate for U.S. Senate. He lives in Rye.)

Legacy Comments21

You party Mr. Brown, the Republicans, have voted many times to reduce benefits for the Veterans. Your party is big on sending us to war but does not want to pay for the after math. So this Veteran is sticking with Shaheen.

Yup, as I've posted before, any Vet that votes for a Republican stabs his brother in the back. This, of course, gets Itsy and sail all in a dither, but then they're not Vets. Just Tax haters.

Wrong as usual. The sequester cut veteran benefits. Both parties wanted to get them reinstated. However, the Republicans were not going to sign a bill that had a bunch of other things included. So that bill was unacceptable. If I remember correctly, Bernie Sanders wanted to fund the total bill by paying for half of it through reducing money for our troops overseas. If a clean bill without clinging amendments passed Republicans would pass it. Moreover, Democrats treat illegals better than they treat veterans. There is a soldier being held in Mexico, a veteran with PTSD who took a wrong turn.....yes, a veteran. Democrats, including Obama have been mum on the issue and have done nothing to get him released. Yet they found their way clear to free a person who denounced his country and is probably going to be found to be a deserter. Your argument is moot. And how to hell do you know who is an who isn't a veteran and if you are, why do you feel that you hold the high ground Hanky.

I believe you, Mr. Brown, when you say you care about Vets. Unfortunately you belong to a party that doesn't. So on your own you couldn't do squat for my brothers and me. I'll stick with Shaheen

Well they say that stupid is what stupid does.

care to name who has increased the budgets? - That answer blows Doc's blather out of the water

Nothing annoys Conservative like the truth.

Nothing annoys an anti-American progressives than Conservatives pointing out the truth.

You got a lot of chutzpah call me anti-American. I gave the best years of my life to my country. I wrote a check for up to and including my life. What have you done except complain about your taxes? It's you and people like you who are destroying our Country. You're in for a big surprise come election day. You really need to get out more.

Shoulder meet chip, chip meet shoulder.

Well, if you start something, don't always expect to finish it. I think that it is more "un" versus "anti". We all make choices, you made yours, others made their choices. That does not make one person able to hold the high ground over another. How am I "destroying" this country? Is it the fact that I want politicians to stop spending like drunken sailors? Or is it my call for "morals" or "ethics"? Or is it a call for less and smaller government? Or is it the fact that I believe in freedom? Or the fact that I don't believe that Obama should do anything he wants? Or the fact that we are now the laughing stock of the world and we look weak and all of the blood shed in the last two wars is in vain as Obama fiddles and diddles and acts like a weakling on the world stage? I am waiting for the next election but I won't be the one sorely disappointed. I do get out a lot. People are fed up with the progressive BS,

not a stitch of Fact - Proof for that is that Devil D cant present any - just name calling. VA spending has tripled since 2000. Veterans Affairs (VA) is the fifth largest agency measured by spending. Democrats just defeated a bill to make it easier to fire the BAD VA Employees. Yea.... Devils D's screed is now proven false - CHECKMATE

Blather is putting it mildly.

Shaheen , Kuster and Shea Porter (who is the porter of Shea Porter?) all campaign falsely that they WANT to fix the VA. The have all been in power for awhile and have not only NOT fixed the ongoing problem but they haven't even proposed an actual solution. How is it they have actually factually DONE NOTHING ?. If you dont think that Brown (a retired colonel) will FIX the VA then you are simply a LIDV massively partisan hack. Shaheen's latest commercial is more of the same. She says she wants to fix Student Loans - a problem her vote created 5 years ago. Why did she federalize student loans and why has she not fixed it yet? a pure baloney commercial

Republican

Republicans only want to help Vets if they can cut other programs that help Vets. Now, does that make sense?

No, because it is patently false.

Go ahead prove you narrative or forever hold your peace. Here is a fact .VA spending has tripled since 2000. Now all Devil D has to do is to prove that Republicans had nothing to do with it. CHECKMATE

Well no kidding. So did the casualty rate. My god are you that dense.

No, he is simply correct. The casualty rate is due to the fact that bureaucrats and administrators were on the take. So much for your progressive big government.

Devil. I'm sorry to say that trying to be rational with BPR or Itsa is a lot like canoeing up a river without any paddles. They are just too blinded by their conservative blinders to see just how ridiculous they truly are. And I totally agree with you when you say that they have never put their life on the line for the US, unlike you and I. They like to talk the talk, but can't walk the walk.

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