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Sen. McCaskill stops in Cape Girardeau to discuss veterans issues
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill stopped in Cape Girardeau on Monday as part of her statewide "listening tour," where she met with veterans to discuss issues that she says have caused a long list of frustration, confusion and downright anger for those who have served their country.
While a political whirlwind was engulfing her Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Todd Akin about comments he made about rape and contraception, McCaskill, a Democrat, never mentioned it during the half-hour talk at the VFW before an audience of about 35. It only came up in questioning by the media.
"This is about the veterans," she said.
McCaskill, the daughter of a World War II veteran, said as a senator she's voted to expand access to health care, helped alleviate problems at Arlington National Cemetery and led the charge to pass the VOW to Hire Heroes Act to boost the number of jobs available to veterans. She also noted that she helped pass the post-Sept. 11, 2001, GI Bill, which was modeled after the one that helped her father attend college.
McCaskill drew applause when she said that she'd heard from many veterans who felt that they were misled.
"You can't change the rules after someone has risked their life for our freedom," she said. "That isn't fair."
Akin, while unavailable for comment, has also said that his campaign platform includes honoring promises made to military veterans. Akin, who served in the Missouri National Guard, has pointed out that he introduced a bill to create a burn-pit registry for veterans who have been affected by burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also introduced the Veterans ID Card Act, which would create an identification card for veterans who have served honorably but have no easy way to prove their service.
But McCaskill said there are stark differences between she and her opponent on the issue. During his 12-year career in Congress, Akin voted four times against increased veterans programs, against extending Tricare to National Guard members and reservists and opposed paying the health insurance costs of active duty military families.
Missouri veterans are expected to be an influential voting block in November's general election.
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