With the election a month away, how do you measure the impact of each candidate’s policies on your career & family?
In recent years the military, along with strategies to support it, have become a hot button political issue on both sides of the aisle. From local representatives to the presidential race, 2016 election candidates seek to establish support for service members while putting forward an array of plans for defense spending and use of military force.
But what do these campaign speeches have to do with you?
At the presidential level, those speeches and proposed policies will have a direct impact on the military community. Pay, deployments and promotion depend on the position of the next Commander In Chief.
Defense Budget – Trump plans to restore spending to pre-sequestration levels as part of providing 350 new surface ships, 1200 new fighter planes and the increased troop numbers the Pentagon has requested. For service members, this would likely mean higher promotion rates and increased training. More available budget could mean more PCS moves as it would ease the pressure for units to “fill in place” to reduce the cost of relocating thousands of military families each year.
(update) Syria – At the second debate, Trump contradicted his VP pick when he disagreed with including ground troops as a possibility in Syria in favor of pursuing ISIS. “We have to knock out ISIS,” Trump said. “Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. … We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved.”
(update) Afghanistan – There has been more news of the Trump’s campaigns missteps on Afghanistan than any policy after his spokeswoman referred to it as “Obama’s war” during an interview. He has also referred to Afghanistan as safer than some US cities wrestling with gun violence.
VA – In the wake of continued scandals involving the VA, Trump described plans to “shake up” VA employees and the institutional structure through his 10 point plan. He plans to increase the power of the Secretary of Veteran Affairs to hire and fire VA employees, presumably in response to continued fraud investigations. Other proposals include establishing a White House Hotline to allow veterans to contact lawmakers directly. He would also increase the number of military health in the industry.
Veteran Education & Careers – Trump has indicated support for continuing the GI Bill, but plans to defer decisions to military officials. He supports encouraging states to allow service members to transfer skills and certifications to civilian markets. A 6 month transition program into a field of their choosing would assist veterans with the move from military life to civilian employment.
Defense Budget – Clinton also plans to end sequestration, but with a “bargain” while prioritizing defense spending. She has vocally indicated support of NATO and related activities, indicating continued deployments to those regions. While a balanced budget and ending sequestration cuts could indicate, there haven’t been clear indications of a return to pre-sequestration troop levels. Her website outlines policies related to responsible military fiscal policy and focusing on innovation and “net-centric warfare capabilities.”
(update) Syria – Clinton has also held to a no ground troops position on Syria.
(update) Afghanistan – In the first debate, Clinton mentioned Afghanistan as evidence of the importance of NATO. Although she visited Afghanistan several times as Secretary of State, there hasn’t been mention of a specific plan to move forward from the 9,800 troop non-combat presence currently in Afghanistan.
VA – Clinton mentions plans to overhaul the VA system and implement improved communication between various medical professionals and specialists. She also plans to establish a Strategic Oversight and Governance Board to improve VA accountability.
Veteran Education & Careers – Clinton has voiced support for continuing the Post-9/11 GI Bill, making it a permanent part of veteran support. She also supports expanding tax credits for veteran employers to broaden opportunities after service. Clinton also intends to earmark federal funds to help local NonProfit Organizations fighting veteran homelessness. New programs would also be aimed at challenges experienced by spouses and families.
Both Clinton and Trump ran into fact check problems on military issues during the first debate. NPR outlined the problems with answers on ground troops in Iraq and sexual assault indicates fundamental gaps in the candidates’ ability to speak directly to the military community.
Be sure you keep organizations like National Military Family Association (NMFA) in mind as you are evaluating policy details from each candidate. NMFA recently had a special visits from both parties to discuss pertinent information and have opened up a dialogue on their website here.
Going Third Party
This year, there has been an increased interest in 3rd party options – including Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin. In September, polling of the military community indicated that the majority favored 3rd party option Gary Johnson.
Are you concerned about the candidates’ positions on military issues?