The following statement was issued Sept. 18 by James Gilbert, Director of the AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council and veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, in response to recently-aired comments by presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
Though unsurprising, Mitt Romney’s comments are shamefully disrespectful to all of America’s veterans and military families. The same 70,000 American troops currently serving in Afghanistan whom Romney neglected to acknowledge in his convention speech are a part of the 47 percent he says “should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” U.S. troops keeping us safe and serving in designated combat zones like Afghanistan — [who are] not required to pay federal income tax during that time of service — know far more about responsibility than Mitt Romney.
Romney’s ignorant criticism of government “entitlements” show total disregard for the families of the more than 6,500 American service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. As someone with a family member killed who leaves behind a wife and young child that receive survivorship benefits, this is personal for me as it is for many other veterans and military families.
Furthermore, these disgraceful comments show his lack of concern for the nearly 50,000 Wounded Warriors who receive vocational and occupational therapy, the 8.3 million veterans in the U.S. that receive care at one of 152 VA Medical Centers or nearly 1,400 community-based outpatient clinics around the country. The $11 billion cut to the VA in year one of the Romney-Ryan budget [is] enough to know just who he means when he says, “My job is not to worry about those people.”