Priorities Trump Should Set for Vets
(This article first appeared in the January-February 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
President-elect Donald Trump made veterans, trade and jobs the cornerstones of his campaign.
Many veterans supported his candidacy, while many others spent the majority of last year actively campaigning against him. Love him or hate him, the voters have spoken. It is time to move forward. Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. As the transition process is starting many of us, including the AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council (UVC), are anxious to hear what concrete plans and policy proposals the new leadership has in store to support our veterans and improve the lives of the working class.
There are 22 million veterans in the United States. You’ll find them working in factories, in building and construction trades, in hospitals, at the Postal Service and most other places of employment. While we’ve made strides in the past eight years, many veterans remain unemployed or underemployed. Many do not earn a living wage, are without benefits, lack job security and are, or are at risk of becoming, homeless.
Accepting the work that lies ahead, UVC Executive Director Will Fischer wrote an article in The Hill, titled, “Five Priorities a Trump Presidency Should Set for Veterans.”
In the article Fischer stated, “Veterans and the working class are ready to work with President Trump to make some of his campaign promises a reality, in the right way and in line with our belief system and values.”
“If Mr. Trump really wants to work with veterans, he should focus his energy on connecting veterans with what we need more than any public acknowledgment or praise: good jobs,” he continued. “It’s only through having access to a good job that a veteran is able to return to society and live a life with dignity. It’s only through having access to a good job – a career – that a veteran is enabled to live out the American Dream we fought to protect and defend.”
Fischer listed five simple steps the Trump Administration can take that would help veterans:
- Kill the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It will send jobs overseas and rip employment opportunities away from veterans.
- Heavily invest in our nation’s infrastructure to connect hundreds of thousands of veterans, who are journeymen/women and apprentices, with good jobs.
- Heavily invest in job training programs for veterans preparing to leave active service.
- Fully-fund and fully-staff the Department of Veterans Affairs which not only provides excellent healthcare and benefits to our veterans, but has a workforce largely comprised of veterans.
- Respect veterans and the rights of all Americans to collectively bargain and negotiate fair wages for the work they do.
Veterans reflect a diverse cross-section of America. Veterans are the spectrum of race and religion. They are men and women, straight and gay. Some are single, others married, many are parents. Veterans are native born and immigrants. Brother Fischer reminds us it is now Trump’s duty, as President of the United States, to protect, defend and preserve our democracy – a democracy which includes the diverse faces and needs of our veterans.
The UVC, labor and veterans organizations are prepared to work with President Trump if he’s serious about following through with his promises to pursue policies that improve the lives of working people and veterans.
As we move forward, Fischer asks that we “focus on the successes veterans, the working class and President Trump can have in the future, by working together.”
To learn more about the Union Veterans Council and its initiatives, or to sign up for communications and alerts, visit unionveterans.org or find them on Facebook.
Source: The Hill, “Five Priorities a Trump Presidency Should Set for Veterans,” Nov. 11, 2016