November 2, 2007,

2008 Presidential Candidate Unveils Comprehensive Plan for Future of Veteran’s Healthcare

[NOTE: Operation Firing For Effect (OFFE) is a bi-partisan veterans advocacy group, and subsidiary of Veterans For Veteran Connection, Inc., a 501(c)19 non-profit corporation devoted to the protection and improvement of entitlements and services earned by our men and women in uniform. OFFE does not endorse political candidates running for office. OFFE does report on issues of importance to our former military personnel and their families and that includes ‘News’ from both sides of the aisle. OFFE will grant equal time to any candidate (regardless of political affiliation) who wishes to share and explain their position(s) on ‘veterans’ affairs’.]

From the Headquarters of Bill Richardson for President

I believe that we have an obligation to defend those who have defended us. It is a national disgrace that our veterans return home from war to horrific conditions at Walter Reed and endless waits to get medical care. Our veterans deserve the highest quality care that this country can offer, and as President, I won't be satisfied until they have it. That is why I am proposing a $15 billion per year veterans plan, paid for entirely by closing a tax loophole on under-reporting of capital gains earnings. Here's what I'll do as President:
Create a "Heroes Health Card"
This card, which will be issued to every single veteran upon leaving the military, will provide our returning servicemen and servicewomen with the healthcare they need, when and where they need it. As President, I will call on every provider in America to accept this card and coordinate care with the veteran's local VA hospital.
Guarantee Full Mandatory Funding for Veterans' Healthcare
Currently, veterans have to beg Congress for their healthcare funding each year, rather than receiving it as an entitlement. I will end this travesty. And I will ensure that we fix President Bush's mess, at Walter Reed as well as those at other VA hospitals and clinics throughout the country. Our veterans and military personnel deserve high quality healthcare, and it is a travesty to provide them with anything less.
Offer Tax Cuts for Veterans
I will also ensure that veterans, who endure real financial hardships while protecting us, enjoy real financial benefits after they remove their uniforms. I will fight for Senator Jim Webb's proposal to give all vets a five percent cut in their federal income taxes for the rest of their lives. And because the transition to civilian life is often difficult, my plan also eliminates federal income taxes for veterans in their first year after separating from the military.
Take Care of Military Families
It is crucial that we address the hardships that many family members face when a loved one is critically injured. Often, spouses and parents are forced to leave their jobs to care for their wounded. As President, I will offer up to one year of disability insurance for the family member who leaves a job to care for an injured troop.
Fight for a GI Bill for the 21st Century
The G.I. Bill has been one of the most successful pieces of federal legislation in our nation's history, helping millions of veterans attend college over the decades. Unfortunately, it has not kept pace with inflation or the skyrocketing costs of higher education. As President, I will augment the G.I. Bill and the services' College Funds with up to $24,000 in loan forgiveness for our veterans.
The Bottom Line
We ask so much of our men and women in uniform -- far too much to treat them as shabbily as President Bush has these past years. It is time for a change. We must honor those who have put their lives on the line defending our nation. When I am President, we will.
A Record of Commitment to our

Nation’s Veterans and Military Personnel

Governor Bill Richardson is deeply committed to the military servicemen and servicewomen who have fought for our freedom and security.  Since taking office, Governor Richardson has a strong record of supporting the veterans and military personnel who have given us so much:

As President, Bill Richardson will continue to fight for veterans, he will:
ü      Take immediate steps to correct the disgraceful conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, other military medical centers, and VA hospitals throughout the country.  Our veterans and military personnel deserve high quality healthcare, and it is a travesty to provide them with anything less.
ü       Fight for a GI Bill for the 21st Century that expands the educational opportunities we provide to our military personnel.
ü      Reject President Bush’s efforts to divert veterans away from the VA healthcare system by increasing prescription drug co-payments and enrollment fees.
ü       Expand research in prosthetics and other medical technology that improves the quality of life for veterans with disabilities.
ü       Improve the Veterans Employment and Training Service so that veterans have better career opportunities.
ü      Institute a “Heroes Health Card” that would provide our returning servicemen and servicewomen with a choice of physicians wherever they live.  Will call on every provider in America to accept this card and coordinate care with the veteran’s local VA hospital.
ü      Support and strengthen America’s commitment to the Geneva Convention, which protects the lives and well being of our military personnel serving overseas.
As Governor, Bill Richardson:

Provided for our Troops and their Families

ü      Led the nation by purchasing $400,000 life insurance premiums for every member of the New Mexico National Guard. This historic step has since been proposed by 35 other states, helping Guard personnel around the country.
ü      Elevated Veterans’ Affairs to his Cabinet, creating the Department of Veteran Services.
ü      Eliminated state income tax for all active-duty military pay.
ü      Granted extensions for activated Guard personnel to file state taxes.
ü      Granted a grace period for expired drivers’ licenses for Guard personnel.
ü      Offered tuition refunds or credits to Guard personnel currently enrolled in school.
ü      Provided free hunting and fishing licenses to all veterans for one year following their redeployment back to the U.S.
ü      Granted free tuition to any New Mexico Public University for any child of a New Mexican Guardsman killed in action.
ü      Committed to easing the transition between employers and their employees who have been called to serve.
ü      Granted administrative leave to state employees with family members returning from Iraq.
ü     Authorized 15 extra days of military leave for every soldier who’s been deployed.

Honored our Veterans

ü      Presented former Iraqi Freedom POW Spc. Joseph Hudson with the very first "Spirit of New Mexico" Award, which is designed to recognize New Mexicans who demonstrate extraordinary courage, leadership, and devotion to state and country.
ü      Invested in veterans’ services:
o       Created a Vietnam Veterans Memorials in Santa Fe and Angel Fire, NM.
o       Funded construction and renovations for veterans’ memorials around the state, including in Farmington, Las Cruces, Gallup, Taos, T or C, and Mora, NM.
ü      Provided funding to the Department of Navajo Veterans’ Affairs.

Maintained a Strong Military Presence in New Mexico

ü      Worked successfully to maintain and expand the missions of Cannon and Holloman Air Force Bases, and prevented closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
ü      Met personally with all nine members of the BRAC Commission to convince them to keep Cannon Air Force Base open, and refused to leave Washington, D.C. until he got his way.
ü      Was successful in keeping Cannon Air Force Base in operation.  In June of 2006, Cannon AFB’s new mission to fight the war on terrorism was announced, saving 4,700 jobs in the surrounding communities and potentially adding 1,000 new military jobs.

As an international diplomat, Governor Richardson:

ü      Successfully negotiated the release of American servicemen and civilians from Iraq, North Korea, Cuba, and Sudan.
ü      Just returned from North Korea, bringing home the remains of six MIA veterans of the Korean War.
ü      Helped convince the North Koreans to shut down their nuclear reactor and to allow access to weapons inspectors, a significant step to reducing the threat of nuclear proliferation and safeguarding the thousands of Americans stationed in South Korea and the DMZ.

For more information or to get involved, please visit:
Richardson for President
P.O. Box 26208
Albuquerque, NM  87125-6208
(505) 828-2455 (Phone); (505) 842-5785  (Fax)

Paid for by Richardson for President, Inc.

Jere Beery
National Public Relations Director
Operation Firing For Effect