War hero critical of Lowden on veterans’ issues | NevadaAppeal.com

War hero critical of Lowden on veterans’ issues

Former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland said Wednesday that Sue Lowden is no friend of veterans.

Cleland criticized the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate for her vote on a bill that would have charged some veterans for burial plots in VA cemeteries.

“I never knew anybody who wanted to tax veterans’ burials, for God’s sakes,” said Cleland, who is touring Nevada campaigning for Sen. Harry Reid. “And she was the only vote against the special license plate program to fund veterans’ cemeteries.”

Lowden cast those votes while in the Nevada Senate in the 1990s. Cleland’s comments were in response to a Lowden TV ad referring to her USO service touring Vietnam with Bob Hope.

Cleland received the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart after losing both legs and an arm to a grenade in Vietnam. He headed the U.S. Veterans Administration under Jimmy Carter.

Cleland also had some harsh words for the Republican attacks on Reid, which he called character assassination. But he said he doesn’t think it will ultimately sell well with Nevada voters.

Cleland was defeated in part by such attacks during the 2002 elections. Republican Saxby Chambliss attacked him with an ad featuring Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, claiming Cleland had voted against homeland security measures and questioning his patriotism.

He said the Newt Gingriches and Carl Roves of the GOP along with the “right wing media out there – they really amplify this kind of character assassination stuff.”

“Americans are turned off by that,” he said.

He called on Nevadans – especially veterans – to look past those attacks to Reid’s record.

“Since he’s been majority leader, the VA budget has been increased 45 percent,” Cleland said. “Without his support, the 21st century GI Bill would never have come to the floor. Now every Iraq and Afghanistan veteran has a shot at an affordable (college) education.”

He said not only did Reid get funding for a veterans’ hospital in Southern Nevada, he got $5 million for improvements at the Reno VA Hospital.

He said every dollar invested in the original World War II GI Bill returned up to $5 to the economy and that the new bill will do the same.

Cleland said comparing Lowden’s record on veterans’ issued to Reid’s is “laughable.”