Presidential candidate Bill Richardson proposed a $15.5 billion plan for military veterans that would cut their income taxes, provide health care and expand education benefits. The New Mexico governor would pay for the plan by expanding capital gains taxes. He noted the miserable conditions that were exposed in February at the Walter Reed Medical Center as an example of Bush administration failures to deal with needs of veterans. “Not every wound can be treated with bandages,” he said, “we have to have a national strategy and we don’t. We need to make mental health care a priority for veterans.” His plan includes a health care card entitling veterans to their choice of care when they cannot conveniently access Veterans Administration care. It also allows one year of comprehensive disability insurance for family members who have to leave work to care for a wounded veteran.
Many decry the failure of the current Democratic controlled Congress to do anything, but its record in passing legislation to assist members of the military and veterans is outstanding. They have done much to remedy failures of the Bush administration to care for veterans wounded in Iraq.