The two candidates are going to appear on NBC/MSNBC tonight in what is being billed as a Commander in Chief Forum or “test”. The event is being hosted by the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). The IAVA is one veterans group that has made veterans health care a top priority.
This is supposed to be a Town Hall format hosted by Matt Lauer. It will also include questions from the attendees in true town hall format. The candidates will not appear on stage at the same time. They will answer questions one at a time.
There was a coin toss to see who appeared first and second. According to reports, Donald Trump won the coin toss and decided to go second. No doubt he wants to hear what Clinton is asked so he can learn something about foreign policy before making a fool of himself.
Even before last night’s announcement of who will go first, I was hoping that the candidate appearing second would be placed in a soundproof area without any televisions or radios so they couldn’t listen to the questions and answers of the first candidate. That would only seem fair to me. But, I don’t believe that will happen.
I am hoping my brothers and sisters will ask pointed questions about foreign policy and veterans benefits. I am also hoping they make the candidate answer the questions and not allow either of them to skirt the issue with nonsensical rhetoric.
As an example of what I am talking about, Trump yesterday held a “town hall” in Virginia with veterans. Problem was it was not a town hall because the audience members were not allowed to ask any questions. He received a lot of softball questions from his favorite General, yet he did not answer most of the questions.
He was asked for example, if he believed in regime change in Syria. A reasonable and good question. Problem is he spoke about five minutes and never answered the question. He did mention that both Russia and Iran backed the Syrian leader, but never said if he should be removed or not.
With his penchant or “man-crush” on Putin, I would guess he does not think he should be removed since Putin loves the guy. But, he never had the courage to tell his veteran audience that is what he thinks. He rambled on and on about nothing and when he finished talking, his favorite General said “great”.
I am hoping that the veterans at tonight’s forum will not allow that to happen to them. If either of the candidates do not answer their question directly, they should say so and demand a straight answer. Maybe we veterans can show the media how to ask questions and demand answers to those questions.
There are quite a few questions I would love to ask both of these candidates, especially Donald Trump. Some of the questions I would like to ask both candidates are:
- When dealing with a situation like Syria, what would be the “final straw” before sending in ground troops or using air power?
- Veterans Hospitals and clinics consistently receive the highest “customer satisfaction” reviews in the medical industry. Should these hospitals and clinics be expanded for better coverage for our veterans or should we privatize the system?
- Do you favor raising the pay structure for doctors, nurses, and other medical staff to better compete with the private industry and fully staff all VA hospitals and clinics?
- Do you believe that all veterans should be given physical AND mental health exams prior to being discharged to determine any disability or PTSD so they don’t have to go through a VA evaluation once they have been discharged? If so, how would that work in your mind?
- Since the military is an all volunteer force, and that the technical knowledge they require to fulfill their duties are so high that they deserve a pay raise to bring their pay in line with civilian jobs requiring the same technical skills? Do you believe that would help recruiting new volunteers?
- What are your plans to eliminate the veteran homeless population in our country?
- If you believe that the military needs to be “built up” how do you plan to pay for that build up?
Questions I would like to ask Donald Trump specifically:
- You say that the military is a disaster. Exactly what do you mean by that phrase?
- You say that the military has been depleted. In what ways has it been depleted and what would you do to correct that perception?
- You say veterans need our support. Yet you led a crusade to prevent disabled veterans from selling goods from their “legal” carts on the street your building is located because you called them an “eye sore”. How does that effort “support our veterans?”
- It has been reported by veterans who worked for your companies that they lost their jobs when they were called up to fulfill their military obligations. If those reports are true, how does that “support our veterans” and what corrective actions have you taken on the issue?
Those are just a few of the questions I would like to have answered. I hope one or two of my brothers or sisters read this and ask at least one of them for me. Somehow I don’t think any of them will be asked. But I can dream.
I want those questions asked because in my opinion, neither party has been all that great for our veterans. Our country has a history of using up our veterans and tossing them on the trash heap of society.
Some first responders are the only civilians who come close to our experiences. We see death and destruction on massive levels. That all has an effect on our psyche. We volunteer for these jobs for many reasons.
Some of us join up because we love our country. Some of us join up for the education benefits and the ability to learn a profession or skill we can support our families on. Some of us join up because that is the profession that we want to do. The one factor that does join all of us together is that we join up because we believe it is the right thing to do.
Veterans do deserve all of the benefits they are promised. They earned every single one of them. Remember, less than 1 percent of the population serves in the military today. We volunteer to shoulder the huge responsibility to protect our freedoms and we have earned the right not to be thrown on the trash heap when our service is completed.
I want to hear what will constitute the necessity for us to put our lives on the line and what guaranties there will be to take care of us when our service is finished. That is not too much to ask.
Tonight, I do not want to hear a bunch of words with no meaning. I do not want to hear platitudes. I do not want to hear empty promises. I want to hear policy. I want to hear plans. I want to hear facts.
When one of the candidates goes off on a tangent, I want someone there to stop them and say, “just answer the question”. We deserve nothing less.