Nov. 11, 2019 - Pete Buttigieg Introduces A New Plan to Serve Military Communities

Pete for America
For Immediate Release:
November 11, 2019

Pete Buttigieg Introduces A New Plan to Serve Military Communities

MANCHESTER, NH — This Veterans Day, Pete Buttigieg released a new plan to honor veterans and military families. His ‘Our Shared Duty: Serving Those Who Serve’ plan will prioritize veterans’ health, unlock economic opportunity for military families, and promote inclusion for veterans and their families returning home.

“When you put your right hand up and make a promise to give everything to your country, the promise America makes is to remember you, respect your service, and care for you and your family,” said Buttigieg. “That promise lasts long after you hang up your uniform. Right now we are not seeing that promise fulfilled, from long VA wait times, barriers to the full inclusion of women servicemembers, to the often unsafe on-base housing for military families. Veterans Day is an opportunity to do more than just thank our veterans for their service — we must ensure that veterans have access to the benefits they earned in service to our country.”

Our service members and their families deserve a Commander-in-Chief who understands and holds the service of our veterans sacred. Pete is a U.S. Naval Reserve veteran, having served as an intelligence officer who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014.

Pete will keep America’s solemn promise to respect and care for our veterans and military families. As President, Pete will honor their sacrifice with a plan to:

  • Streamline access to medical care by establishing a White House coordinator to coordinate between the VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) and ending the personnel shortage.
  • Ensure each service member will have one medical record from time of enlistment through their entire VA care and can access medical and other data through a veteran-centric portal.
  • Support the full integration of women service members into the military, including in training programs, and direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to revise the VA motto.
  • Guarantee access to mental health care and promote suicide prevention.
  • Expand family caregiving programs, and make it easier for military spouses to pause loan repayments and transition back to “civilian” life.
  • Fix military housing by hold private housing contractors accountable.
  • Ensure racial equality in the military and honor immigrants who serve by reinstating the MAVNI program and protecting immigrants who served, and their family members, from deportation.
  • End the transgender military ban.
  • End veteran homelessness with a housing-first approach that prioritizes permanent supportive housing and  state and local partnerships.
  • Grow civic-minded service nationwide through A New Call to Service.
  • Close the loophole that excludes the DoD Tuition Assistance and GI Bill funding from student protections.

When we ask our service members to put their lives on the line for America, we must be ready to provide them, and their families, with the support they need. Read Pete’s full plan HERE.



Serving Those Who Served

The American military represents the best of who we are and what we can be. The women and men of our Armed Forces come from every corner of America and from all backgrounds. But what unites our service members is a shared commitment to support and defend the United States. In this, they set an example for us, and the world, about the potential of the American experiment.

Each day we are reminded of the sacrifice and dedication of our service members overseas. Less recognized, but no less important, are the contributions they continue to make in civilian life. Even after they take off the uniform, veterans are often eager to continue serving and tackle some of America’s largest challenges.

quotation marksThe American military represents the best of who we are and what we can be.

Over the last decade, the generation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have founded hundreds of businesses and non-profits. Veterans who have served since September 11, 2001 now make up nearly half of all veterans in Congress, ushering in a new generation of political leadership. Most inspiring is that they have taken care of not only fellow veterans, but also those in need in their local communities and around the world. In this they have demonstrated the power of service and set an example for the rest of America.

Serving in uniform can be the defining experience of a lifetime—but it can also lead to challenges that last a lifetime. During my time in Afghanistan, I served beside Americans from all walks of life who were willing to risk their lives to promote security and peace. When I returned home, like so many others, I felt disoriented. Too many veterans, including many I served with, suffer from post-traumatic stress and, tragically, have died by suicide. Families and loved ones bear this burden of suffering, as well.

When we ask our service members to put their lives on the line for America, we must be ready to provide them and their families with the care they need to recover from the wounds of war. This is not about doing veterans a favor. This is about the United States keeping a promise. When you put your right hand up and make a promise to give everything to your country, the promise America makes is to remember you, respect your service, and care for you and your family. That promise lasts long after you hang up your uniform. It lasts a lifetime.

quotation marksWhen you put your right hand up and make a promise to give everything to your country, the promise America makes is to remember you, respect your service, and care for you and your family. That promise lasts long after you hang up your uniform. It lasts a lifetime.

I will honor the commitment of our service members, veterans, and their families and ensure that every veteran has the opportunity to lead on the home front. We will support service members throughout their military journey and integrate veterans back into society in ways that honor their service and experience, respect and meet their needs, and position them to continue to contribute to their communities. Together, we Americans can emulate their example of service. Together we can build an even better country.

Heal the Wounds of War & Other Service-Related Injuries

Many of our veterans return home with wounds—visible and invisible—only to experience challenges in accessing the benefits that were promised to them for their service. To change this, Pete’s approach for how we provide veteran health services is laser-focused on the needs of veterans and their families. This means a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that is transparent, innovative, responsive, and easy to access. It also means focusing on the kinds of comprehensive care that veterans need. Specifically, Pete will:


A Buttigieg administration will ensure universal health care access through Medicare for All Who Want It. Pete will also ensure that the VA is fully-funded and undertake a variety of measures—like cutting time-to-hire periods and increasing clinical pay—to make sure the department has adequate professional staff to care for all. He will also expand benefits to veterans with “bad-paper” discharges who were denied the due-process rights of court martial.

I am a veteran of the Air Force who served between '87 and '94 and left with an Honorable discharge. My husband served in the Coast Guard between ’82 and ’86. I qualify for VA benefits because I served during Gulf 1. My husband does not qualify. As a nation, we thank our veterans for their service, but those are mostly empty words if we truly do not show we care by providing the benefits they earned in service to our country.
— Mary, Nevada


For too long, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the VA have operated in silos, rather than cooperating to better serve American veterans. Pete will establish a White House coordinator to coordinate between the VA and the DoD, implement a veteran-centric portal, and ensure one medical record from the time of enlistment throughout one’s life as a veteran.

My husband is a Vietnam Vet that has and still is suffering from PTSD. We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. There has been so much pain and suffering for both of us and our children. Our veterans need so much more support from America. While the VA is improving...he was told 20 plus years ago that he had PTSD. We knew nothing about this and they never assisted us with this. This past summer he thought he was back in Vietnam when those darn fireworks went off. There are way too many veterans who are not receiving the best support from the VA.
— Marilyn, New Hampshire


Service often leaves service members and veterans with invisible wounds: one in three veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan report symptoms of mental illness.1 To ensure timely, effective, and respectful support, Pete will expand the number of mental health and addiction clinicians treating veterans, invest in training on veteran-specific mental health issues, create a VA mental health care concierge service, and invest in veteran treatment court so that veterans can get treatment rather than jail time for crimes they commit in part because of mental illness. Underpinning this work will be initiatives that address stigma among veterans experiencing mental illness, moral injury, and addiction by changing how we talk about them.


Between 2008 and 2017, over 60,000 veterans ended their own lives.2 About 20 veterans and active service members take their own lives each day. Pete will confront the high rate of suicide among veterans by addressing unique needs and risk factors: social isolation, limited health care options, and high rates of opioid addiction. Specifically, he will increase investments in veteran suicide prevention and promote common sense gun safety to end the crisis of deaths of despair among veterans.

This deployment left us all with an emptiness. Like staring at the empty spot left from the lost piece of a set. Or the marker that never made it back in the box. There is a spot carved for it but there is nothing there. The feeling doesn’t go away. Sometimes I wonder if we ever made it back...It’s the oddest feeling in the world. Like I went to Iraq but someone else came home. We lost around 3,000 people on 9/11. Rightly viewed as a tragedy. We lost upwards of 6,000 servicemen and women in the wars that followed. Some of them my friends. We have lost some 90,000 veterans to suicide alone in that time. So why is it that it’s still so hard to get help for veterans? Why is it that we as a country, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, don’t provide free, comprehensive, and enduring medical coverage for veterans?
— Damien, California


Nearly one in four veterans reside in rural areas, facing unique health care challenges. Pete will reduce care shortages by increasing the number of physicians and other health providers through both loan forgiveness and expansion of Conrad 30 waivers so that more immigrant doctors can help communities in need. He will also invest in telehealth services so that rural veterans can get the treatment they need even when they live in remote areas.


Over the next eight years, veterans over the age of 70 in the VA system will grow by 30 percent. Those who are cared for by VA-supported nursing home care will double by 2024.3 Beyond health care, older veterans visit the VA for the social connections, which both improves their clinical outcomes and reduces long-term costs through improved social determinants of health. Pete will improve aging-in-place options for caregivers, expand respite services, and modernize data sharing between the VA and nursing homes so that older veterans can get the care they need and deserve.


Pete will update the VA so that it is focused on the needs of today’s veteran, blending the best of private sector innovation with the unique assets of the VA’s broad reach and resources. To achieve this end, he will make the VA apolitical by appointing leaders with relevant expertise and ensuring continuity in leadership across administrations. A Buttigieg administration will also ensure that the VA continues to play a vital role in developing innovative and forward-thinking technologies by both formally recognizing innovation in its budget, and expanding innovations in genomics and precision medicine.

Support Those Currently Serving & Their Families

Pete knows that the Commander-in-Chief must provide strong, principled leadership that protects our values, our allies, and above all, the lives and well-being of our service members. As President, he will prioritize the needs of those who are serving, while they are serving. And it is not only those in uniform who serve. Service members’ families bear the burdens of service alongside them. We owe these military families the support they need to maintain the world’s best fighting force. Pete will:


We invited supporters from the military community to share their stories and tell us why they're all-in for Pete.



The priority of every parent is for their children to be healthy, happy, and well-educated. But military families are often unable to find adequate child care and specialty medical services for children and mothers. Pete will address the acute shortfall of available child care in military communities through additional resourcing. A Buttigieg administration will also train educators nationwide to support the needs of military children.


Military spouses suffer from high rates of unemployment. Even among those who are employed a majority, 56 percent, consider themselves to be underemployed—and this hardship increases with the number of moves a military family makes.4 This puts military families at an economic disadvantage and directly affects the career choices of service members, leading many to leave the military. To address these challenges, Pete will expand family caregiving programs and make it easier for military spouses to pause loan repayments and transition back to “civilian” life. He will also bring defense personnel policies up to date so they are less disruptive.


Pete will both hold private housing contractors accountable for providing safe housing, and ensure that military families retain control of their housing allowances if they are forced to vacate their homes because of unsafe conditions. He will also ban the use of non-disclosure agreements in housing contracts.


Today, nearly one-seventh of all active duty service members are women. 5 Significant barriers to women’s full inclusion in the military persist—including high rates of sexual assault, lack of adequate reproductive healthcare, and military policies that limit fair promotion and leadership opportunities. Pete will ensure women have the tools needed to effectively serve their nation and institute new systems for accountability to reduce sexual assault and gender discrimination. He will support full integration and a better, independent process to report and obtain justice for sexual assault. Pete will also ensure women’s health needs, including reproductive care, are accessible while they serve.


The American military has often driven change in our nation’s struggle for racial equality. The diversity of the force is one of its greatest strengths. Unfortunately, racial inequity still permeates our armed forces. Pete will uproot racism and white nationalism from the military, treating it as a national security priority. Specifically, he will demand regular reports on what units are doing to combat racism and extremism, and promote diverse leadership to foster diversity, inclusion, and belonging.


Pete will reinstate the MAVNI program for immigrants with special skills, reinstate protections for immigrants and their family members from deportation, and fast-track naturalization for non-citizens who serve. Significantly, and in contrast to the current administration’s efforts, Pete will ensure the protection of military families so that all service members can focus on the mission without being worried that their family could be deported.


For too long, LGBTQ+ personnel have had to hide their identities. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” means service members no longer have to choose between serving their country and being true to themselves. But this victory is not the end of the story. Pete will rescind the transgender military ban, the ban on HIV+ service members, and the coverage exclusion of surgical treatment of gender dysphoria. He will also review cases of those separated from the military because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Our family was destroyed by combat. I lay awake imagining how my childhood and early adulthood may have been different with a mentally-strong father. A dad that was proud, rather than overcome with feelings most of us will never understand. A dad that was able to identify and confront his mental illness to feel whole again. A dad that was able to find happiness and joy in life. And how that would have changed the course for my mom and my three siblings. Because now, while my dad is receiving mental health support he so-badly needed all those years ago, the family is still fractured. The wounds from childhood still exist. And I’m determined to prevent this cycle from happening to young veteran families, fighting an endless war both in combat and at home.
— Sara, Nebraska

Engage All Americans to Provide Opportunities for Veterans & Military Families to Thrive

Pete knows we can do more than just say, “Thanks for your service.” When our service members come home, we must provide the care and support they need to recover from the wounds of war, whether visible or not. Pete will enlist entire communities to help restore the normalcy and sense of community veterans need by individually and collectively making sure they know they belong, and giving them the tools to thrive. Pete will:


Pete will support veterans who want to open small businesses by increasing loan opportunities and by building on the Boots to Business entrepreneurship education program. He will invest in the Transition Assistance Program for service members and their spouses, as well as support community organizations that help veterans reintegrate, including veteran service organizations.

My family’s lack of prosperity comes from my decision to stay in the military. Instead of spending the last 21 years building a career in the civilian world, I spent years in a military occupational specialty that served my country and our military’s missions but is not a skill set that transfers to the civilian sector. But I wasn’t worried, because I had been promised that my family would have health care and I would receive assistance establishing a civilian career. Promises that did not come to fruition. I am not an anomaly.
— Kevin, California


Every era’s veterans have special needs and each conflict leaves different wounds. The VA must invest in research on these injuries and appropriately expand care and benefits to those harmed. Pete will continue to invest in presumptive condition research and benefit expansion for all eras of veterans, expedite care for Vietnam War-era veterans, and conduct a full accounting of those listed as missing or killed in action.

I served in the U.S. Army for almost 10 years. I suffer from PTSD. My stepfather was a Vietnam veteran that died of lung cancer 2 years ago. By the time he lost the ability to work, I was well integrated and thought I fully understood the VA system. I was wrong. I was considered 100% disabled by the VA, and my stepfather couldn't even receive free VA healthcare because my mother had a good job and made too much money for him to qualify for free healthcare. This is WRONG. He served his country in an ugly war, was exposed to Agent Orange, and was unable to receive the same healthcare that I had access to. Most importantly had my stepdad had free VA healthcare....he might still be here. He sacrificed his health to save money. Nobody should be in that position.
— Jerry, Oregon


Women comprised 9.4 percent of the veteran population in 2015 and are projected to make up 16.3 percent of all living veterans in 2043.6 Yet, too many women avoid VA because it is not equipped for their needs, and because they sadly suffer sexism in the very place they are supposed to get help and feel welcomed. Pete will change the culture at the VA so that women can get the care they need. He will also create a commission to study women veteran homelessness, as well as work to engage women veterans in the business sector.


Pete will invest in permanent supportive housing with state and local partnerships and increase disaster relief for displaced veterans.


The Post-9/11 GI Bill promises to help launch the next “Greatest Generation” by both educating veterans and their families and helping rebuild a prosperous middle class—without the racial exclusion of the post-World War II period. Pete will extend the life of the GI benefit to ensure that veterans do not miss out. Pete will facilitate the success of the Post-9/11 GI Bill by closing the loophole that leads for-profit colleges to target service members and veterans, expanding opportunities in non-traditional fields, and increasing and promoting awareness of its benefits.


America’s service members have always answered the call to serve, even after taking off the uniform. Those young men and women heeded that call and created a vibrant economy, robust school systems, and institutions that were the envy of the world. Our charge today is to continue to build on that foundation. While not everyone can serve in the military, we can all follow their example of service. This is why Pete has proposed A New Call to Service to open a pathway for young people to meaningfully engage in their communities and in communities around the world, and focus on key challenges of our time—from climate disruption and mental health and addiction to long-term caregiving and intergenerational mentorship.

Never forget. Freedom is not free. The veterans of the United States of America took an oath and promised to protect and defend our country and the constitution against all entities foreign and domestic, and we did. We are the veterans of the United States of America. All military personnel train, serve, and sacrifice to protect our country with great pride, no matter when or where we served. We are family. Veteran or active duty, doesn’t matter, the bond is there. My experience as a service member in the U.S. Army was amazing. Military families deserve the best.
— Colleen, North Carolina

We must honor the commitment of our service members, veterans, and their families. If you’re with us text DUTY to 25859.

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  1. American Psychological Association. “The Mental Health Needs of Veterans, Servicemembers, and their Families.”Back to content
  2. US Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. “National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.” 2019.Back to content
  3. As America’s Veterans Grow Older, The VA Faces A Long-term Care Crisis.” North Carolina Public Radio WUNC. August 21, 2018.Back to content
  4. Military Family Lifetime Survey.” Blue Star Families. 2018.Back to content
  5. Krulewitch, Cara J. “Reproductive Health of Active Duty Women in Medically Austere Environments.Military Medicine 181, no. 1S (2016): 63–69.Back to content
  6. Women Veterans Forum.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 2019.Back to content