12 Medal of Honor recipients endorse Bush

12 Medal of Honor recipients endorse Bush
© Greg Nash

GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is touting the support of 12 Medal of Honor recipients as he unveils his plan to help the nation's veterans.

Among the recipients who endorsed Bush on Monday are two Afghan War veterans, retired Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter and retired Army Staff Sgt. Leroy Petry.

Some of the other 10, all Vietnam veterans, also submitted statements in support of Bush.

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“Governor Bush’s strong record on veteran’s issues makes him the best choice to serve as our next Commander in Chief," said retired Marine Capt. James Livingston, a Vietnam veteran.

The endorsements were released ahead of a speech to veterans in South Carolina, and as GOP front-runner Donald Trump has attacked Congress on the campaign trail for not doing enough for veterans.

Bush's campaign also touted his record on veterans as Florida governor, and posted a seven-point plan on its website to improve services for veterans.

"As Governor, Jeb made military families and veterans a signature issue," said the statement.

It highlighted efforts to increase the number of state veterans homes from two to six, increase tax exemptions and eliminate fees for disabled veterans, and create job programs for veterans and servicemembers' families.

"He also passed laws that provide free undergraduate tuition at state colleges and universities to Florida recipients of the Purple Heart (and combat-related decorations ranked superior in precedence to the Purple Heart) and their children," it added.

The campaign said Bush would allow for veterans to seek care at private facilities if they choose, and implement a number of reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Reforms would include making it easier to fire bureaucrats and underperforming employees, adding protections for whistleblowers and modernizing the VA's software and technology.

Bush would also seek to allow veterans to use their GI Bill educational benefits for small-business loans.

He would also end the "rapid troop drawdown" the Army is undergoing under defense budget cuts.

Other reforms would improve healthcare for female veterans as their numbers grow in the military, including creating programs in obstetrics, gynecology and specializations in ovarian and breast cancer.

Bush would also use the "bully pulpit of a national election and his presidency" to honor the service and character of America's veterans.

"They should be acknowledged. Restoring the respect that veterans have earned requires national leadership, and Jeb is well positioned to offer precisely that. This will be a priority of his first term in office and beyond," the statement said.