Jim Rubens, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, was the only candidate to speak before the Disabled American Veterans annual convention held today in Gorham. Below is the text of his prepared remarks:
Seventy years ago today, 150,000 brave American and Allied soldiers put their lives on the line, facing a hail of fire from Nazi pillboxes, and stormed the beaches of Normandy to win the battle that turned the tide in World War II. These soldiers preserved our freedoms and the entire civilized world.
My dad served as an Army Lieutenant in the mountains of Italy during the war. I was honored as his eldest son when two soldiers silently presented me with the American flag folded perfectly into the isosceles triangle at my father’s burial ceremony at a veterans’ cemetery in his beloved Virginia.
That’s why we these and all American veterans deserve our gratitude. We will show our gratitude, not just with our words on historic days such as today, but with our actions.
Every serviceman and woman, including you here in this room, swore an oath to put your lives on the line to defend our nation and the United States Constitution.
And here is what we owe you in return:
We owe all our veterans the quality healthcare we promised in return for your service. It makes my blood boil to know that some VA system administrators have been earning pay and bonuses, in some cases for years by falsifying veterans’ healthcare waitlists, forcing thousands of veterans to wait for as long as half a year for appointments. The VA Inspector General preliminary report released last week found these problems to be “systemic” throughout VA healthcare and that 23 vets have died while waiting for care.
Who is responsible? Certainly VA system leaders and all those responsible who should be subject to criminal prosecution.
And it’s fair to ask a simple question to every US Senator, including the two other individuals running for this US Senate seat and who were serving in the US Senate two years ago and who were informed at that time that vets were being grossly abused and denied care. Why didn’t these people, endowed with all the power of a US Senator, not demand and get action two years ago? I can tell you with ironclad certainty, I would not have tolerated business as usual in Congress and in the VA bureaucracy and would have raised the rafters on this outrageous injustice.
While VA care is superb for many vets and our VA hospitals in White River Junction and Manchester, it’s time for an overhaul. And in the meantime, vets must no longer be forced to wait for or to drive long distances for care. Vets should be give vouchers that can be used at the provider or hospital of the veteran’s choice. And vets should be allowed to use care vouchers to pay for visiting nurse or other in home care so that vets who wish to can stay at home and save taxpayers money.
Every American and, certainly, every member of Congress and the President also owe veterans the same faithful allegiance to the constitution. And that includes to the Second Amendment which is right up there at number two in our constitution to protect us from tyranny – and cannot and must not be compromised.
Here is what we most owe our vets and all the men and women serving in our armed forces: the strongest and most technologically advanced military in the world. We can never afford to relinquish the peace we get by having a big stick.
Before Congress again commits us to war, all other options must be exhausted. Economic sanctions, diplomacy, engagement of regional powers who also want to preserve regional stability. If serving in the Senate, I would not have voted for President Obama’s Syria bombing war, which would have led to yet another Middle East war quagmire where there are no good guys.
I am sick to my heart with our young heroes coming home in boxes, without legs, and with brain injuries. Before the US again commits to war, Congress must vote to approve as required by the Constitution in Article I, Section 8. And US national security must be at stake. And there must be a plan to win and to exit.
Thank you for your time this afternoon and God bless you and God bless the United States of America.