COLUMBIA — Roy Blunt and Robin Carnahan spoke to the Department of Missouri Veterans of Foreign Wars convention on Friday morning at the Columbia Expo Center.
Also present among a crowd of about 300 VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members were Missouri Reps. Chris Kelly and Steve Webber and state Sen. Chuck Purgason.
Kelly received the VFW’s legislator of the year award for efforts to secure $600,000 for a veterans service program in Missouri.
During their speeches, Carnahan and Blunt thanked the VFW and offered their ideas for veterans benefits in the Senate. They both promised to honor current military members with proper equipment and financial security upon their return home.
They are campaigning to take retiring U.S. Sen. Kit Bond’s seat in the fall 2010 election.
First to speak, Blunt was recognized for working to pass concurrent receipt legislation, which pays for both retirement and disability pay.
“I am proud to be in those battles for you and doing that would be one of my top accomplishments,” Blunt said. “They’ve been fighting that battle since the start of the civil war.”
Other legislative accomplishments Blunt cited included getting prescriptions from non-VA doctors honored by VA hospitals, improving survivors benefits from 35 percent to 55 percent, expanding hospital access, and his work with Tillie Fowler to get health care benefits for retirees.
“How can we possibly not afford to do what we promised veterans we’d do?” he asked.
Blunt said that in the Senate, he would like to address immediate access to records, expanding work opportunity tax credits for veterans and cutting down on paperwork.
He also spoke about national security, saying we have a culture of denial about the threats we really have.
“We have enemies in the world because of who we are,” he said. “Islamic extremists don’t like us because every day we disprove what they say — that there’s only one way that people can live together and everybody has to be just the same. We disprove that like no society ever has.”
The VFW then welcomed Robin Carnahan, lauding her collaboration with veteran organizations and legislatures to make voting easier for Missourians deployed overseas.
Carnahan cited her family’s history of public service. Her grandfather served in the Navy during World War I and her father, former Missouri governor Mel Carnahan, was stationed in the U.S. during the Korean War.
“Like my father, I will advocate for veterans,” she said. “I will also do that for those who are continuing to serve to make sure they have the equipment and the training they need as well as the financial security they were promised and deserve when they get home.”
Carnahan said she helped pass the toughest law in the nation to protect seniors from financial scams.
She said she would like to step up jobs, housing and health care benefits for veterans as well as ensure proper training and equipment for those currently serving in the military.
Carnahan then criticized Blunt for standing up for big banks, oil companies, insurance companies and lobbyists as well as voting to double Senate salary while voting against raising minimum wage.