Saul Newton is a U.S. Army veteran who served one deployment to Afghanistan. Newton, who lives in Riverwest and is a research assistant for One Wisconsin Now, questions Senator Ron Johnson’s support for Wisconsin’s veterans.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson talks a big game about his support for military members, military families, and military veterans. However his record in Washington fails to support his lofty rhetoric.
Following over a decade of combat, many of America’s military service members are returning to civilian life. Our new Greatest Generation is confronting challenges veterans have not faced before. Bureaucratic malaise in the Department of Veterans Affairs has led to veterans being denied desperately needed health care. Domestic war profiteers masquerading as institutions of higher education have set their sights on returning veterans to bilk them for the education benefits they have earned through their selfless sacrifice. Military veterans consistently have higher rates of unemployment than the general population.
All of these facts suggest that America is not fulfilling the commitment we have made to our veterans. As much as politicians talk a big game about supporting veterans and appreciating their service, they often fail to follow through on our words with concrete action or changes to policy. There are many individuals and groups working every day to address these challenges. Senator Ron Johnson is not one of them.
Ron Johnson says he supports veterans. The boilerplate statement he released in honor of Veterans Day suggests we have his unwavering appreciation and support.
“Our country is free and united because of the service and sacrifice of men and women throughout our history. Every day that we live our lives in peaceful liberty, we are connected to the veterans who have defeated tyranny for more than two centuries. Those veterans came home and continued to serve America by building this country brick by brick. Today, we should think about their contributions in securing the blessings of freedom for all of us, and we should take time to thank a veteran.”
Johnson seems to have forgotten his voting record. He seems to have forgotten that time after time he has turned his back on veterans when we needed him most.
As a candidate for the Senate in 2010 Ron Johnson was asked about what he would do to help address homelessness among veterans in America. His response was that he “didn’t have all the details,” but he was not concerned because elections are not about details.
After it was disclosed that VA Medical Centers were fudging records and thousands of veterans were waiting indefinitely for treatment, the national outcry was deafening and justified. A temporary fix was to allow the VA to contract with private health care providers for services that veterans needed but were unable to receive at the VA itself. Ninety-eight U.S. Senators voted in favor of this plan. Ron Johnson was not one of them.
Student loan debt reform is an issue gaining attention and credibility as economists realize that 40 million people carrying over $1 trillion in indispensable, non-negotiable debt is a clear and present danger to our country’s economic future. For-profit businesses operating as institutions of higher education have been identified as major catalysts for the student loan crisis facing Americans.
Moreover, these universities rely primarily on the education benefits of veterans they dupe into signing up for classes with false job placement claims and dubious promises of flexible class schedules and quick degrees. Many of these companies are under investigation by the Department of Justice, the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, the Department of Education and dozens of state Attorneys General. Last month Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced the State of Wisconsin would be suing Corinthian College-operated Everest College for defrauding its students.
According to Wisconsin’s senator, the answer to the student loan debt crisis is to encourage more people to attend these predatory and fraudulent schools. Despite the overwhelming evidence that these colleges are a key catalyst of the student loan crisis, evidence that these schools deliberately targeted and defrauded military veterans and continue to operate virtually without regulation, Ron Johnson says more students should attend for-profit schools.
As a veteran, these issues have particular personal importance for me. One of the things I miss most about being in the military is the esprit de corps, the pride that your buddies and your leadership have your back at all times. Ron Johnson does not have our back. And it is not only disingenuous and dishonest, but it is insulting to vote the way Ron Johnson has while proclaiming his appreciation for veterans.
Veterans have a very low tolerance for excuses and dishonesty. Veterans do not ask for handouts. We do expect our political leaders to give us the same level of support we have given our country, and we expect that support every day, not just on Veterans Day. Ron Johnson should take note.