White House hopeful Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.) on Saturday unveiled a new plan to expand veterans’ access to health care and provide housing assistance to over half a million former service members.
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Harris’s campaign released the plan shortly before she was expected to appear at the VoteVets forum this weekend in New Hampshire, a crucial early primary state.
“There is no more solemn duty for a commander-in-chief than taking care of servicemembers, veterans, and their families, and as president, I will commit to expanding access to these benefits to half a million more veterans who don’t have it today,” Harris said in a statement.
“Serving our veterans has always been a top priority for me, and through this plan, I will continue to fight for them as president,” she added.
The California Democrat said that if she is elected, by the end of her first term, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would expand access to health care and housing assistance through the agency to the more than 500,000 veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.
She noted a government study that said the majority of veterans discharged for misconduct between 2011 and 2015, 62 percent, had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other conditions.
Harris would also direct the Pentagon to review all nonhonorable discharges for possible bias and other mitigating factors, including PTSD and TBI diagnoses.
“The bottom line is that if we are to get serious about addressing the veterans homelessness and suicide crises, getting at-risk veterans the healthcare and housing services they need is critical. This isn’t just a matter of what’s right, it’s a matter of public health,” she said.
To help veterans more easily obtain housing assistance, Harris’s plan also calls for the creation of a Veterans Transitional Housing Block Grant that will give communities resources to help get former service members into transitional housing regardless of their status with the VA.
Beyond health care and housing, Harris’s plan includes proposals widely demanded by the Democratic base, including lifting the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military and tasking the Pentagon with combating sexual harassment and assault within its ranks.
Harris has consistently polled near the top tier of most national and statewide surveys but has recently stagnated behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.).