Hillary Clinton knows that the Veterans Administration needs major changes, and that it also needs funding, which Republicans have hypocritically refused to approve even as they blame the Obama Administration for delays in care. [source] [source] She also recognizes the difficulties that current service members face. Democratic proposals for veterans and military families are strong. [source]
Some of these steps can be accomplished through executive branch measures and some require Congressional action, which is unlikely if Republicans maintain control of the House and Senate, since they have made clear that they plan to focus on trying to make Clinton a one-term (or impeached) president. Of course, the best thing for soldiers is peace, and Clinton will require active public scrutiny to ensure that she fully recognizes the human and financial costs of using military force.
Trump has been all over the map as to what he thinks U.S. foreign policy should be, and lies about his past positions on Iraq and Libya. [source] It is likely he would delegate much policy responsibility to Mike Pence, whose instincts appear to be to favor use of US military force. To the extent that he does exercise personal control, Trump is supremely confident in his abilities, saying, among other things, that “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.“ [source] A former Army intelligence officer in Afghanistan recently called Trump “the kind of boss that intelligence professionals imagine only in their worst nightmares” noting his contempt for U.S. intelligence findings and plan to purge generals who disagree with him. [source] While Trump goes back and forth between isolationist to militaristic rhetoric, what is clear is Trump’s disrespect for people who served in the U.S. military and his minimization of their resulting needs.
Trump compared being in a military school, to which his parents sent him because of severely problematic behavior, to being in the military. Trump also insisted that he had actually known military life. Biographer Michael D’Antonio, in Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success, wrote: “Trump always insisted that he had actually known military life. In a separate conversation he said, ‘I always thought I was in the military.’ He said that in prep school he received more military training than most actual soldiers did, and he had been required to live under the command of men such as Ted Dobias who had been real officers and soldiers. ‘I felt like I was in the military in a true sense,’ added Trump, ‘because I dealt with the people.’” [source] He did not enlist, but went to college instead. After years of student deferments ended with graduation, he avoided the peak of the Vietnam draft due to heel spurs. He has called trying to avoid sexually transmitted diseases while single during the late 90’s his “personal Vietnam,” saying “vaginas are landmines.” [source]
Trump attacks Democrats who pushed to fund and reform the VA of “defending” it. He proposes privatization, thinking or pretending to think that if only veterans were thrust into the private health care world, they could see doctors immediately. He blames suicides on veterans not getting “pills” faster without recognizing more costly mental health needs which the VA may well be better at addressing than the private sector. [source] He has told veterans who came out to support him that other, less “strong” vets struggle with depression and PTSD. [source] He does not honor John McCain’s courage as a pilot or prisoner of war because as he put it “I like people who weren’t captured.” [source] He attacked parents of a Muslim-American soldier who gave his life in Iraq to protect fellow soldiers. [source] He has yet to answer Khizr Kahn’s question: whether his fallen son would have a place in Trump’s America. [source]