Senate candidate Kander calls for VA changes during Cape campaign stop

Thursday, October 20, 2016
Jason Kander

The federal government needs to improve the flow of health records from the military to the Veterans Affairs department so veterans no longer would be treated as "strangers," Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander said Wednesday.

Kander, who is seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., talked about the need for reform of veterans' services during a visit with supporters and local veterans at Cup 'n' Cork restaurant in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Kander said once people leave the military and become veterans, "they go from having their branch of the service know everything about them to all of a sudden being treated like a stranger who has to apply to the VA."

"One of the first things we can do to make a difference is to allow health records of folks in the military to flow easily and quickly over to the VA when someone leaves the military and becomes a veteran," said Kander, an Army veteran.

"When I was in the Army, the military rightfully knew my health status nearly down to the mole. Then the second that somebody becomes a veteran, they are treated like they just wandered off the street and nobody has heard of them. It doesn't make any sense," Kander said after talking with four local veterans.

Veterans Tom Meyer, Mike Brown, Bill Adams and Dub Suedekum sat around a table and talked with Kander about their military experiences and the need for improved VA services.

"I think it is a very important issue," Adams told Kander. He told Kander many veterans complain about the bureaucracy and lengthy paperwork involved in seeking health services from the VA.

"It is hard to defend that," Adams said.

Kander, who is Missouri's secretary of state, said the VA has "a lack of customer service" that needs to be addressed and made more "user friendly."

Suedekum suggested the VA needs to employ more psychiatrists to deal with psychological issues facing many of today's veterans.

Kander said Congress has not adequately funded the VA and or made major reforms to the system.

"A big part of the reason that the reforms that are needed have not been made to the VA has to do with the fact that we have the fewest veterans in Congress right now since World War II," he said.

"It makes it a great deal harder for them to understand what needs to be done. It is also part of the reason you have so many politicians who will complain about the VA, but not, for instance, vote when they have an opportunity to fund the VA at record levels so it can meet its mission," Kander said.

Blunt, the incumbent senator in Missouri, has sought to label Kander as a liberal Democrat.

Kander said, "Sen. Blunt thinks about everything in terms of his political party. I think about issues in terms of what is best with Missouri, and if my party disagrees, then so be it."

He added, "I have broken with my party on a lot of issues because my first concern is what is best for Missouri."

Kander said he opposed the Iran nuclear deal.

"I didn't think that it was making America safer, and I didn't think it would accomplish the goal of denying nuclear weapons to Iran," he said.

Members of Congress should not let their political parties dictate their votes on issues of national security, Kander said.

"We have to have people who call balls and strikes the way that they see them," he said.

Kander said he is ready to serve in the Senate.

"There is just nothing that will be asked of me in the United States Senate that is more difficult than a regular Tuesday in the Army and that is really the perspective that we need," he said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

(573) 388-3641

Pertinent address:

11 S. Spanish St, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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