Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Del. David Reid (D-32) worked to provide a pre-Super Tuesday push to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) presidential campaign with a Sunday afternoon roundtable focused on challenges facing military veterans at VFW Post 1177 in Leesburg.
It turned out to be one of the final events for the campaign, as Klobuchar announced Monday she will drop out of the race for the Democratic nomination.
While holding Klobuchar up as a hard-working moderate who could help bridge the nation’s divisive partisan divide, Walz and Reid—who served in the Army and Navy reserves, respectively—asked the handful of retired veterans who attended the Sunday session what services were needed to better support those who have served.
In large part, the response was that the needed programs are in place, but aren’t working well.
Phillip Thompson, a retired Marine, said the military does a great job recruiting troops into the service and “putting them in the ground” with respectful burial services—“in between is where we have issues.”
Although the federal government in recent years has pumped billions of more dollars into the VA healthcare system, attendees said there remain concerns about the quality of care offered and the lack of accessibility to those services across the country. Walz noted the agency has some 40,000 unfilled positions.
Another key concern, especially in Loudoun with its proximity to Washington, DC, was the failure of the policies aimed at giving veterans preferences for government jobs to achieve that goal. Speakers said there was little oversight or enforcement of the program, allowing hiring managers wide latitude to overlook qualified veteran applicants.
Robert J. Ouellette, who survived combat zones as a bomb tech, said he couldn’t land a job doing that work for the TSA, and wasn’t hired for more than 100 other federal jobs for which he applied and said he was well-qualified.
Walz said Klobuchar has been successful in helping secure jobs for service members in her state, even hosting overseas job fairs so the veterans have jobs lined up when they return stateside.
The governor said that none of the other presidential candidates would put as strong of focus veterans’ needs. “I’m willing to bet that you will not hear veterans mentioned on that debate stage once,” he said.
“Amy has done these types of things in Minnesota where she has brought veterans and the private sector together,” Reid said. “The thinking is that she is the candidate to actually have a plan to do those types of things at the federal level. … You have to have someone who is willing to make that commitment and to change things up.”