PRESS RELEASE from the Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee

May 25, 2007

Contact: Press Office

Clinton Campaign Announces Veterans and Military Retirees For Hillary

Sen. Inouye to Lead National Steering Committee

The Clinton Campaign today announced the launch of Veterans and Military Retirees for Hillary, a national initiative to highlight Clinton’s support of the men and women of our Armed Services. Medal of Honor winner and Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye will lead the national steering committee, which will advise the campaign on policy and outreach to the 26 million American veterans and their families.

“I have had the privilege of working with Hillary Clinton since 1993, and her depth of experience makes her uniquely qualified to be President," Senator Inouye said. “She has been a tireless advocate for our soldiers and veterans, fighting for life-saving body armor when they deploy, and the healthcare and benefits they deserve when they return home.

“My support of Hillary Clinton does not take away from, or speak any less of, the other Democratic Presidential candidates. They are all outstanding leaders, and, in fact, some are personal family friends.  There is an excitement present among Democrats as we look ahead to the Presidential campaign, and a retaking of the White House on behalf of working families in 2008.  I look forward to a vigorous campaign, and I believe Hillary Clinton is the best prepared to deal with the challenges facing our nation at home and abroad.”

Clinton has been a longtime advocate for veterans, calling attention to Gulf War Syndrome as First Lady, and leading efforts in Congress to provide life-saving armor for our troops and their vehicles in Iraq. She recently proposed a new GI Bill of Rights, which would expand opportunities for veterans to pursue education and home ownership and provide low-interest loans to start their own businesses. Her bill would also cut red tape for military personnel to receive the benefits and the healthcare they need, and crack down on predatory lenders who target military families.

“The challenge for our nation now is complex – we need a candidate who understands the issues and can get things done. Senator Clinton is the candidate,” said Congressman Joe Sestak, a former three-star Admiral and 31-year Navy veteran.

“Hillary Clinton is a strong leader who can protect our nation while rebuilding our relationships abroad,” said Retired Army Lt. General Kennedy, the first woman to be appointed a three-star General. “Her life-long commitment to health care and better lives for children, along with her commitment to America’s men and women in uniform and veterans, makes her well suited to be our next President.”

Korean War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Congressman Charlie Rangel said, “I’ve worked closely with Hillary Clinton as a Senator and First Lady, and I’ve seen firsthand her commitment to veterans and their families. She has the experience and toughness to lead this nation from her first day in the Oval Office.”

Hillary’s growing Steering Committee includes veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.


U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (Hawaii)
Veteran, World War II Combat Veteran, Recipient: Medal of Honor

U.S. Congressman Charlie Rangel (New York)
Veteran, US Army, 1948-52

U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak (Pennsylvania)
Veteran, Retired US Navy Admiral
Commanded Aircraft Carrier Battle Group, Afganistan

U.S. Congressman Ed Towns (New York)
Veteran, US Army, 1956-58

U.S. Congressman Jose Serrano (New York)
Veteran, US Army, 1964-66

U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey (New York)
Veteran, US Navy 1956-59

Honorable Togo West (District of Columbia)
Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Former Secretary of the Army
North Carolina Native

Honorable John Dalton (District of Columbia)
Veteran, United States Navy
Former Secretary of the Navy

Lt. General Claudia Kennedy, Ret. (South Carolina)
Veteran, Three Star General, Highest Rank Achieved by Female
Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence

General George Buskirk, Ret. (Indiana)
Veteran, Adjutant General, Indiana Army and Air National Guard

Honorable Vernon Weaver (Florida)
Veteran, World War II and Korea
Former Ambassador to the European Union
Former Naval Academy Board of Visitors

Larry Romo (Texas)
Veteran, US Air Force Reserve, DNC Veterans and Military Families
Texas Democratic Veterans Chair

Joe J. Bernal (Texas)
Veteran, World War II
Former Texas State Senator, Member State Board of Education

Kate Wilder (Virginia)
Veteran, Female Green Beret

Lanon Baccam (Iowa)
Veteran, U.S. Army National Guard, Afganistan 2004 - 05
DNC Veterans and Families Advisory Council

Chuck Fulkerson (Nevada)
Veteran, Two Vietnam Tours, NV Distinguished Service Medal
Founded Veterans Guest House, Served as E.D. of NV Office of Veterans Service

Wayne Smith (Nevada)
Veteran, Air Force Master Sergeant,
Southwest Asia Service Medal 1991 (Married in USAF over 18 years ago)

Val Smith (Nevada)
Veteran, Air Force Staff Sergeant, Member Disabled American Veterans
Southwest Asia Service Medal 1991 (Married in USAF over 18 years ago)

Phil Lisagor (Nevada)
Veteran, Officer, Army Reserve, Two Tours in Iraq
Chief Surgeon

Bob Hannan (New Hampshire)
Veteran, Airforce Captain, Vietnam, Bronze Star

Eleanor Kjellman, (New Hampshire)
Veteran, US Air Force Officer
Son served in Iraq

Joe Wynn (District of Columbia)
Veteran, US Air Force, Viet Nam
Leader of National Assn of Black Veterans, President Vets Group

Bill White (New York)
President, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

Hillary’s Veterans Agenda

        Senator Clinton has a long history of fighting for our veterans. She believes that once service members have fulfilled their duty to our country, our country must fulfill it’s obligation to them. As First Lady, Hillary called attention to Gulf War Syndrome. As the first member of the Senate Armed Services Committee from New York, she has traveled overseas to witness firsthand the incredible honor and courage of our troops. And in the Senate, she has consistently taken a leading role in improving mental health services, access to medical care, family benefits, and assistance in transitioning to civilian life for our veterans.

        As a presidential candidate, Hillary’s Veterans Agenda includes:

Ø      A new G.I. Bill of Rights.  Hillary’s has proposed a new bargain with our troops. Her plan would reduce the level of red tape facing our wounded service members and veterans; make available microloans for entrepreneurial ventures up to $100,000; expand opportunities for veterans to purchase, build, repair or improve a home; protect service members against predatory lending, insurance, and other financial practices; and provide educational scholarships for those who have served.

Ø      Guaranteed, mandatory funding of our veteran’s healthcare system.  Hillary does not think that the Veteran’s Administration should be fighting every year to get the funding necessary to care for our wounded Veterans.  She has called for full funding of veterans’ health care, taking into account the fluctuating number of veterans and inflation in each year going forward.

Ø      A pay raise for wartime troops. One in five military families rely on food stamps and other public assistance to survive and last year's pay increase for members of the uniformed services was just 2.2 percent, the lowest since 1994. Hillary has called upon President Bush to increase pay for our troops by 3.5%.

Ø      A monthly stipend for Gold Star Parents.  Hillary introduced the Gold Star Parents Annuity Act, legislation that would provide a $125 monthly stipend to surviving mothers and fathers whose sons or daughters lost their lives while serving in the Armed Forces during a period of war for the rest of their lives.

Ø      Free postage for the family and friends of service members. Hillary introduced legislation that provides each service member deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan or hospitalized at a Department of Defense (DOD) facility as a result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan with a voucher every two months that would enable his or her family or friends to send the service member one free package or piece of mail (up to ten pounds).

Senator Clinton’s Record

In the Senate, Hillary has championed legislation to improve the lives of our veterans and their families.  She has secured funding for Veterans’ hospitals, and secured additional support for disabled veterans.  She also successfully fought off the Administration's proposal to double the co-payment for prescription drugs of certain veterans.

She created a health tracking system for all active duty personnel and Reservists to ensure that they receive regular check ups; and expanded access to military healthcare benefits (TRICARE) for all Guard and Reserve members whether they are on active duty or not in order to prevent another illness like Gulf War Syndrome.

She successfully passed her Heroes at Home legislation, which helps family members learn to support loved ones suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), identify ways to help Guardsmen and Reservists transition back to civilian jobs, and assess the mental health challenges – including PTSD – faced by members of the Guard and Reserve.  Hillary’s initiative improves the detection, assessment and treatment of traumatic brain injury and expands support systems for members and former members of the Armed Services with traumatic brain injury and their families.

She passed legislation to increase the military survivor benefit from $12,000 to $100,000.

Clinton successfully worked to address Veterans’ mental health needs. In part as a result of her efforts, the Veterans Administration will be directed to take into consideration the needs and concerns of Veterans as it proceeds with the CARES process.

Hilary wrote to Postmaster General John Potter, and launched a petition on her website to urge the Postmaster General to continue issuing the Purple Heart stamp.  Hundreds of people signed the petition which were then delivered to Postmaster General John Potter. As a result, the U.S. Postal Service decided to continue printing the Purple Heart Stamp despite the recent rate change.

In recognition of her efforts, the American Legion named Senator Clinton an “unsung hero” of the 108th congress for her leadership in securing record increases in funding for veterans health care.