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Patrick Murphy Headshot

Veterans Are Vital Part of the '47 Percent'

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After hearing Romney's private comments this week about the 47 percent of Americans he isn't reaching out to, is it any surprise that he failed to even mention those serving in Afghanistan during his acceptance speech?

When Mitt Romney said he wasn't concerned about the "47 percent" of the country who pay no federal income taxes -- describing them as "victims" who fail to take "personal responsibility" for their lives -- he again showed he lacked an understanding that 61 percent of them already pay taxes. But what about the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make for the country they love?

Included in the half of America that Mitt Romney dismissively wrote off while standing in front of wealthy donors, were seniors, students, and people with disabilities -- but also people serving in the military. That's right, the military families with loved ones currently fighting in combat, defending the freedoms that all Americans enjoy regardless of political party. What they earn from their sacrifice and service to our nation isn't something that is just given.

Even more troubling is the fact that yet again, Mitt Romney was caught only providing policy specifics to wealthy donors at a private fundraiser while failing to do the same for the vast majority of the country he is asking to vote for him -- because as his advisers admitted, providing specifics before an election would be suicidal.

In public, all veterans and military families hear from Mitt Romney are empty platitudes, bluster that says more about his lack of foreign policy experience than it does our men and women in uniform, and promises that don't quite line up with his record. As governor, Mitt Romney was not a friend to my fellow veterans. He proposed eliminating hiring preferences for veterans applying for civil service opportunities, and cut veterans' programs by 11% in his first budget.

Many veterans and military families remember quite well the last time Mitt Romney decided to get specific about policies impacting their lives. Again, speaking before a group of wealthy donors at a private fundraiser back in April, Mitt Romney said that as president he'd consider eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If Mitt Romney had his way and eliminated HUD altogether, it would undermine tremendous progress that has been made under President Obama's leadership to end veteran homelessness. If Mitt Romney had his way and abolished these services -- where would our nation's heroes turn? What's Mitt Romney's plan to continue the progress we've seen under President Obama in taking care of those who have served our country?

Proposing we get rid of HUD and the work it is doing to combat veterans homelessness as a way to cut spending while maintaining tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires is not only wrong - it's something I think most Americans, especially military families would find offensive. Mitt has suggested privatizing the VA healthcare system, and let's not forget that Romney called bringing our troops home from Iraq "tragic."

President Obama and the First Lady have proven to veterans that they will fight for them. From implementing and expanding the most comprehensive educational benefit for veterans and their family members since the original GI Bill of 1944 to tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed veterans and wounded warriors, President Obama has walked the walk, even for veterans who didn't vote for him in 2008.

Therein lies the difference between a President Obama and a want-to-be President Romney. Upon entering office, President Obama didn't just wash his hands because half of our veterans didn't support him -- he instead did what a president should do and went to work for all of us. He led by example and always had our back.

As a proud Democrat, I don't plan to vote for Mitt Romney. But as a veteran, who risked his life in service to our great country, it saddens me that a person seeking to become commander-in-chief sets out only wanting to represent half the country. After Mitt was one of the biggest cheerleaders for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Mitt was asked if his sons would serve in Iraq or Afghanistan. He replied, "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president." I'm sorry, Governor Romney, that just doesn't cut it.

One thing I learned in combat is that when it comes to standing up for America, there are no Democratic or Republican values -- just American values. It has to be the same for the commander-in-chief. So when Mitt Romney says he isn't concerned about 47 percent of the country, his words and past actions prove to veterans and military families that his values couldn't be further from those that we all share.