Watching the debate Monday night probably gave me more of a headache than anything else. I suppose I could have made some popcorn, but I would have still been rather disappointed.
Neither candidate really bothered to talk about the two things which concern me the most — our service members and our veterans.
Granted, things like taxes, the economy, trade deals, Donald Trump’s tax returns and Hillary Clinton’s lost emails are all things we want to know about.
But for the soldier getting ready to deploy yet again to the Middle East or a veteran trying to get care through the Veterans Affairs system, those issues just aren’t that important.
There was a lot of talk about a $15 minimum wage, but zero talk on whether our troops would get a raise.
Pay raises for the military have been pretty stagnant at about 1.2 percent for the last several years, so if a nearly-double minimum wage is instituted — which will more than double the price increases for goods and services — what is going to be done for that private heading off to combat who is now making about half of what his buddy flipping burgers is making?
And what is going to happen to his or her spouse trying to take care of the kids while he or she is deployed?
Where were the questions about funding our military? As our equipment gets older and constant use is wearing that equipment down, what is being done to replace it?
As China fields a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier, are either of the candidates going to ensure our Navy is capable of controlling the seas?
These are the things I want to hear about.
Veterans make up less than 3 percent of the nation’s population, and they are killing themselves at a rate of 20 per day because they are not getting the help and care they need. Instead of listening to the candidates bash each other as “unpresidential,” I’d like to know what they plan on doing to care for those who cared for the nation.
Receiving health care through the Veterans Affairs system can be highly frustrating and take an inordinate amount of time. And getting disability benefits can take forever. I know, because I’m going through both at this time — and often my appointments are months away.
Am I concerned about the economy? Trade deals and relations with other nations?
Yes, of course I am. But those are not the topics I currently want to hear about.
Building a strong base for our military and premium care for our veterans, however, are. Once they start talking about these issues, I’ll have a better idea of who I want to see as the next commander in chief.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7554.