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The men and women who serve our country, along with their families, have made immense sacrifices for our safety and national security. It’s not enough to ensure that our service members are well trained and equipped while they are actively serving. Our commitment to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard members who support and defend the United States around the world every day must extend to taking care of them once they return home.

Our veterans deserve better access to education and skills-training opportunities, employment services, quality healthcare, and should not have to travel hours to reach the services provided by VA facilities. Our elected officials and community leaders must work together to improve the return home for our veterans and their families and help them access the resources they need in our upstate New York communities.

Washington has repeatedly failed to keep its promises to our veterans. Our elected officials can and must do better. First, we need to commit to improve upon the care administered by the VA and push back against efforts to privatize services. This includes helping veterans better access mental health care services. The risk for suicide is 22 percent higher for veterans over civilians. Female veterans are nearly 250% more likely to commit suicide than a female civilian. And a large number of suicides come in the first weeks and months after veterans leave active military duty.

Female veterans deserve equal access to quality healthcare. We must pass bipartisan legislation like the Deborah Sampson Act, which supports female veterans at risk of homelessness and provides legal and benefits services.

I strongly support equal rights for LGBTQ veterans and oppose the ban on transgender individuals from serving in our military.

We must also work together to create job opportunities for veterans and better coordinate between the public and private sector. We should prioritize hiring veterans for public projects to fix our outdated infrastructure or expand veterans business outreach programs, like those available through the Small Business Administration, that are dedicated to helping veterans gain employment and start new businesses.

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