Democrat presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar holds Carson City event
Health care and services like broadband for rural areas. Mental health issues. Homelessness. Opioid addiction. Prescription drug prices. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that issues affecting all Americans also affect veterans.
That was the theme of a roundtable discussion Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar held with veterans at the Fox Brewpub on Thursday. Klobuchar is one of the numerous Democratic candidates for president.
A concern that continued to be brought up by veterans at the roundtable was they didn’t want the Veterans Administration to be privatized. And that sending veterans in rural areas to private health care wasn’t the answer. “Sending vets out to the private sector is not a real solution to the problem,” one veteran said.
One transgendered woman at the roundtable who was a veteran said she suffered from military sexual trauma and expressed concern about the treatment of trans veterans and lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel.
President Donald Trump’s administration has worked to ban the transgendered from the military. “I disagree with the administration’s policy,” Klobuchar said.
Another veteran also expressed concern about trying to claim benefits from the VA for past injuries. He said in the military you “suck it up” when it comes to health problems in the military so many veterans wait until it’s too late to make a claim for benefits they really deserve.
On all these issues, Klobuchar said she was working to eliminate the rural-urban divide and added Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez-Masto and Jacky Rosen have also been leading the way on many of these issues.
Klobuchar told the story of how her husband’s family would be afraid of leaving him at the gas station and compared that to what the Democratic nominee will need to do to take back the White House in 2020. “We really can’t afford to leave rural areas back at the gas station,” she said.
Veterans at the roundtable also expressed concern about climate change and all the problems it’s creating. Klobuchar noted the military predicted what would happen when it came to climate change and considers it a security issue.
There was also the expected criticism of Trump. One Vietnam veteran didn’t mince words when he talked about how six of those who served with them who died — two black, two Hispanic and two white — would think of President Trump. “What would they think of a racist president who was a draft-dodging coward who’s dividing the country?” he said.
The issue of Dreamers — many of whom want to serve or have served in the military — was also addressed. Klobuchar talked about two undocumented youth who wanted to join the Air Force but weren’t allowed.
One veteran said it upset him an undocumented person who served in the U.S. military could be deported. Klobuchar also talked about a 102-year-old World War II veteran who was undocumented at the time, but then the government worked quickly to make him a citizen.
Klobuchar said when it comes to immigration Democrats should frame the issue in a way as an example her effort to provide incentives to foreign doctors who have studied in this country to stay in this country to work in underserved areas.
Klobuchar also talked about her disagreement with Trump on foreign policy, noting what former Defense Secretary James Mattis said.
“Cut foreign aid and I’m going to have to make up for it in bullets,” said Klobuchar about what Mattis said.
Also about the president, Klobuchar said, “I don’t think you should be coddling dictators. Being tough is not about sending some tough tweet out. It’s about standing up for your country.”