For Immediate Release
Contact: Jean Weinberg
MAY 29, 2006 )—This Memorial Day, Jim Craig, congressional candidate in New Hampshire’s First District and veteran of the US Army , proposed a sweeping New Deal for servicemen and veterans and sharply criticized the Congress for its poor treatment of military families.
Craig’s GI Bill would extend universal health care to all veterans; introduce a living wage for active-duty servicemen; provide the families of all active-duty servicemen and activated reservists and guardsmen with free child care and universal early childhood education; and allow veterans to confer their GI Bill education benefits on their children.
“Our veterans and servicemen fight hard for us, and I will fight hard for them. We must make a promise to take care of our soldiers when they are deployed and when they come back home. The GI Bill of Rights helped me get my master’s degree and law degree. But it is in dire need of expansion,” Jim said.
Craig sharply criticized his opponent, Rep. Jeb Bradley, for casting the deciding vote against $1,500 pay bonuses for servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan (HR 3289, #554, 10/17/03) and for opposing $3.6 billion in quality-of-life enhancements for U.S. servicemen (HR3289, #547, 10/16/03). Bradley also skipped a critical vote to provide $1.3 billion for veterans’ health care (HR3289, #600, 10/31/03).
“President Bush and the Congress have treated our veterans and servicemen shamefully,” said Craig. “It’s time for new leadership.”
“George Bush and Congress have taken good care of millionaires, to the detriment of military families,” Jim continued. “It’s time to repeal the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and put the money where it belongs.”
Craig’s GI Bill proposal is the most expansive plan currently on the table. It includes four key provisions:
· A living wage for servicemen . The Kaiser Foundation’s 2004 study of active-duty military families found that 21 percent relied on WIC or food stamps at some point over the preceding year. “When servicemen are paid so little that they qualify for federal nutrition assistance, then something has gone terribly wrong,” said Craig. The Craig GI Bill would stipulate that all servicemen be paid sufficiently to keep their families above the poverty line.
· Universal early childhood education and day-care for active duty families in which both spouses work or attend school. The Kaiser Foundation’s 2004 study revealed that 24 percent of military families -- and 29 percent of families with a deployed spouse -- had trouble arranging childcare over the preceding year. “We have an obligation to make sure that the families of our servicemen are taken care of,” explained Craig. “Their children deserve the best care possible.”
· Expansion and transferability of G.I. education rights. “The G.I. Bill helped me build my own career,” said Craig. “But its current education provisions are inadequate for the 21st century.” Craig’s plan would raise the total level of education stipends to $75,000 over four years – for all veterans – and allow veterans to transfer their education benefits to their children. “Servicemen are deeply committed to their families,” said Craig, “and we should help them open doors for their children that would otherwise remain closed.”
· Give veterans the same heal th care their congressmen enjoy. Craig’s GI Bill would give any veteran who does not meet the means test to qualify for treatment in a Veterans Administration hospital the right to enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefits System and provide servicemen with subsidies pegged to the length of service and family income. “Our veterans deserve the best,” said Craig, “and that means giving them the same health care benefits that their congressmen enjoy.”
As State House Minority Leader, Jim Craig, voted for an act requiring the state to fund a $100,000 active duty death benefit for each New Hampshire citizen serving in the New Hampshire National Guard and activated. [HB 719 FN-A 2006]
“If I am elected in November, I will fight for the needs of veterans and their families. The veterans need to know that they will have adequate health care and benefits. The sacrifices they are making for our country should be rewarded with nothing but the best we can give them,” Jim said.
Jim Craig, a life-long resident of Manchester, has represented the 9th District of Hillsborough County in the New Hampshire State House for eight years. As the Democratic Leader, Jim earned a solid reputation for working across party lines to build a lasting, bipartisan consensus that represents the mainstream values of New Hampshire residents.