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Beto O’Rourke unveils plan to boost services for U.S. veterans

Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke on Monday unveiled a plan to boost services for U.S. veterans that includes a new “war tax” to establish a health care trust fund, among other priorities.

Mr. O’Rourke’s plan entails bringing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to a “responsible end,” and reinvesting the money saved into programs benefitting veterans.

He wants to set up a new veterans health care “trust fund” to support investments like hospital and medical services and disability compensation. A new fund would be established within the Treasury Department at the start of any “newly authorized war.”

The plan also entails a new “war tax” on taxpayers making more than $ 200,000 per year in adjusted gross income, with the resulting revenue going into the trust fund. The tax would apply to households that don’t have Armed Forces members or veterans.

The former Texas congressman also wants to give the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs new authority to attract top medical talent. He also wants to better leverage electronic health care data and promote more transparency within the system.

He would also focus on mental health issues by mandating professionals contact veterans within one week following their transitions from the military and ensuring veterans with an “urgent” mental health need get same-day care.

Mr. O’Rourke would also support “the compassionate use of medicinal cannabis” in states that have established programs and allow VA physicians to prescribe or recommend it where it’s allowed.

He would ensure that VA medical benefits cover women’s reproductive health care, including contraception with no out-of-pocket costs and abortions “to the
extent they are provided by other federal programs, such as Medicare and TRICARE.”

Mr. O’Rourke would also direct the Department of Defense to upgrade the service records of LGBTQ veterans discharged due to their sexual orientation or gender identity and restore military service as a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

His plan would also extend support for veterans transitioning out of service.

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