Harris unveils plan to offer health care, housing assistance to over 500K veterans

Harris unveils plan to offer health care, housing assistance to over 500K veterans
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White House hopeful Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBuilding back a better vice presidency Stacey Abrams nominated to board of solar energy firm Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE (D-Calif.) on Saturday unveiled a new plan to expand veterans’ access to health care and provide housing assistance to over half a million former service members.

Harris's campaign released the plan shortly before she was expected to appear at the VoteVets forum this weekend in New Hampshire, a crucial early primary state.


“There is no more solemn duty for a commander-in-chief than taking care of servicemembers, veterans, and their families, and as president, I will commit to expanding access to these benefits to half a million more veterans who don’t have it today,” Harris said in a statement.

“Serving our veterans has always been a top priority for me, and through this plan, I will continue to fight for them as president,” she added.

The California Democrat said that if she is elected, by the end of her first term, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would expand access to health care and housing assistance through the agency to the more than 500,000 veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.

She noted a government study that said the majority of veterans discharged for misconduct between 2011 and 2015, 62 percent, had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other conditions.

Harris would also direct the Pentagon to review all nonhonorable discharges for possible bias and other mitigating factors, including PTSD and TBI diagnoses. 

“The bottom line is that if we are to get serious about addressing the veterans homelessness and suicide crises, getting at-risk veterans the healthcare and housing services they need is critical. This isn’t just a matter of what’s right, it’s a matter of public health,” she said. 

To help veterans more easily obtain housing assistance, Harris’s plan also calls for the creation of a Veterans Transitional Housing Block Grant that will give communities resources to help get former service members into transitional housing regardless of their status with the VA. 

Beyond health care and housing, Harris’s plan includes proposals widely demanded by the Democratic base, including lifting the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military and tasking the Pentagon with combating sexual harassment and assault within its ranks. 

Harris has consistently polled near the top tier of most national and statewide surveys but has recently stagnated behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized Pfizer to apply for COVID-19 booster approval for 16- and 17-year-olds: report Coronavirus variant raises fresh concerns for economy MORE and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo This week: Congress starts year-end legislative sprint Restless progressives eye 2024 MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Restless progressives eye 2024 Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run MORE (D-Mass.).