'Vets against VA vouchers' trails Romney
November 15th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
6 years ago

'Vets against VA vouchers' trails Romney

Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - A handful of people wearing "Vets against VA vouchers" T-shirts showed up at Mitt Romney's economic speech in Columbia to express opposition to an idea the GOP presidential candidate has floated about privatizing health care for military veterans.

The former Massachusetts governor was speaking about jobs and labor policy at Colite International after he toured the corporate and retail sign manufacturing business. Ann Romney joined her husband onstage and delivered brief remarks.

The five activists, four of them veterans, identify themselves with the Occupy Columbia movement. Navy veteran and Columbia resident Melissa Harmon, 34, waited until Romney brought up health care to reveal her T-shirt.

She said she was protesting comments Romney made in South Carolina on Veterans Day when he mentioned the idea of allowing veterans to choose between a private plan and government-run system.

"If you're the government, they know there's nowhere else you guys can go. You're stuck," said Romney, speaking to about a dozen veterans in Mauldin. "Sometimes you wonder, would there be some way to introduce some private sector competition, somebody else that could come in an say, you know each soldier gets x thousand dollars attributed to them and then they can choose whether they want to go into the government system or in a private system with the money that follows them, like what happens with schools in Florida where people have a voucher that goes with them, who knows."

Harmon said they had no intention of being disruptive and that she "stood there politely" when she revealed her "Vets against VA vouchers" T-shirt, but at different times they were escorted outside by Romney campaign aides, who allegedly told them to leave the premises.

They left the parking lot without incident and repositioned across the street where Romney would presumably see them as he was leaving.

A Romney aide and spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Last week, Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann's foreign policy speech was interrupted by about a dozen protesters from the group Occupy Charleston. The disturbance drowned out the Minnesota congresswoman's remarks, and she briefly left the stage until it was over.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Veterans
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Namejkane

    Don't worry vets , this loser is never going to get elected anyway, people should start asking this clown about the 15 billion dallar, big dig in Boston , while he was gov. There, I though he was a fical conserveative,, oh , I guess that was last week. Even mass. State residents won't vote for the clown, or Scot brown the other clown.

    November 15, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. Karen

    At 34, she is not eligible for retirement medical benefits, so she won't get lifetime medical benefits. My husband is a working retired 22 year veteran, and we would love the voucher. MIlitary hospitals have long waits, and civilian doctors don't take Tricare Priime or Standard. Obviously, these people have no idea what they are talking about.

    November 15, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. sonny chapman

    Does Mitt plan on asking any of his 5 sons to help enforce the "muscular" Foreign Policy he has in mind re: Iran ?

    November 15, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. Len Smith

    Always the answer to fix a problem is vouchers. How do they know that vouchers will fix the problem? The VA system works quite well, so don' screw with it Mr Romney.

    November 15, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    Good God, Mitt. You really are on a roll, aren't you? Next you'll be telling us vouchers are people, too. Probably would be a good idea if you played your hand closer to your vest, buddy. Not good to get the folks upset so far out of election night. School vouchers, medical vouchers, VA vouchers, Medicare vouchers ... is coming awfully close to cutting up the country piece by piece and selling it to the highest corporate bidder as one can get ... and something you are all too familiar with if your Bain years are any indication. What's next on the agenda, Mitt Romney, we the people? With you at the helm deciding who's productive and who's not ... all the while readying yourself to ship those who aren't meeting your expectations overseas as well?

    November 15, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. steven harnack

    Republicans never miss a chance to shovel some more government money to Big Business. Un-employment funds or food stamps are things we just shouldn't do though, 'cause who is going to give their unemployment check or their food stamps to a Congressman or Senator, while on the other hand........

    November 15, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  7. Thomas

    @sonny chapman

    Thank you for asking a good question !

    November 15, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  8. 1crusader

    This is standard Republican ideology: Bloc grants to states For Medicaid, privatize Social Security; and vouchers for private schools( taking money out of public education), and vouchersfor seniors instead of Medicare( and they end up under the Ryan Plan having to find$ 6500. extra a year); and now privatizing health care for veterans.Good for the group that protested.They should !

    November 15, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  9. Jen

    anyone that votes for this clown, will get what they voted for. Don't vote for him or any of the GOP's or our country will go back to the bush years.

    November 15, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. Dewayne

    More right-wing taking of tax dollars to give to big corporations under the guise of "competition." Sure. "Healthcare" companies are already "competing" and robbing everyone of us blind while they're doing it.

    November 15, 2011 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  11. and you call yourself an American?

    It's quite evident how Romney feels about freedom of speech and freedom of opinion. Hell, you can't even wear a T-shirt this guy disapproves of! The fact that his aides felt it was their duty to escort a very small group of silent, passive USA ex-military out of the building for wearing "T-shirts for a cause" is incomprehensible. Perhaps he's above caring what they stood for. Nonetheless, his closed-minded actions showed lack of intelligence as well as an intolerant, uncompromising nature. And to think that the GOP considers Obama to be a power-mongering socialist with an aim to becoming dictator. Seems more like they're speaking of themselves!

    November 15, 2011 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. MTATL67

    So he want to be President of just those that think like him...... Great interaction with the people mitt.

    November 15, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. Retired Army in San Antonio

    Karen states: At 34, she is not eligible for retirement medical benefits, so she won't get lifetime medical benefits.


    Karen, you're wrong on two counts.

    1. If this 34 year-old woman was MEDICALLY RETIRED from the military, she gets Tri-Care coverage.....for life.

    2. If she was Honorably Discharged from the military, then she has life-time eligibility for medical care through VA hospitals.

    Honestly......you really shouldn't assume that you know a person's business simply based on their age.......

    November 15, 2011 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. BruhMan


    At 34, she is not eligible for retirement medical benefits, so she won't get lifetime medical benefits. My husband is a working retired 22 year veteran, and we would love the voucher. MIlitary hospitals have long waits, and civilian doctors don't take Tricare Priime or Standard. Obviously, these people have no idea what they are talking about.

    November 15, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm


    What if she's a medically retired service member? Think she's entitled to retired medical benefits? Yepper, you betcha!!! The VA medical system is far from perfect, but many uninsured Americans would love to have at least that basic type of medical care.

    November 15, 2011 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. Jerry

    I'm a doctor and I spent 16 months during my training rotating through three different VA hospitals. I think the VA system needs fixing. The system makes veterans travel to be seen (e.g. 4 hours each way just to see an ENT in training), it sometimes results in functional rationing of care (we had a wait list over 100 patients long for elective surgeries), and it's inefficient (high ratio of administrators/employees to actual number of patients being treated). In the interest of our nation's veterans, somebody needs to do something. Politicians won't touch it though because the other party will have a heyday with it.

    November 15, 2011 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  16. Patrick from Minnesota

    Romney has stepped to a new low with this one. Let us never forget Romney created a PUBLIC health insurance program for the state of Massachusets as Governor (at it is quite sucessful). And now he wants to throw his sucess down the crapper? Dang, you can't trust anything this guy says these days!

    November 15, 2011 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  17. Jerry

    The solution for better veteran healthcare:

    1. Perform an audit to determine how much is actually spent for each patient encounter (total VA budget / total amount of actual healthcare provided), and then compare that to data from private hospitals. This would likely be eye-opening.

    2. Using the same budget now spent to prop up the VA's parallel health care system, provide high benefit, no deductible, no coinsurance private insurance to each veteran so they can get timely, quality care in a conveniently located private facility. Set parameters to limit the maximum rate of growth for insurance premiums each year and then let the insurance companies bid for the contracts.

    3. Maintain select VA centers of excellent specializing in treatment of certain conditions (prosthetics, burns, traumatic brain injury, etc). Those centers would continue their partnership with academic medicine and should get additional funding for research into new treatments.

    November 15, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  18. sara

    After my veteran husband had to file bankruptsy after several heart attacks and bypasses, I am SO GRATEFUL for the VA. His cardiologist cares about him and takes good care of him. His private insurance left him with 180,000 in hospital and doctor bills in 2001. We lost our business in the process. Someone said the "lines" or "wait" is long at the VA, that's just NOT the experience we have had. If his appointment time is at 2:00pm....or whatever time. He is usually seen within 30 minutes. Usually I sit for an hour after making my appointment time at my doctor. A voucher system is so Wrong and it amounts to "coupons". This is just another way to feed our tax dollars to these politicans Cronies. Nothing more. Mitt Romney should be ashame to even ticker with a system that is good for our soldiers and disabled veterans. He has NOT a clue.

    November 15, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  19. LacrosseMom(real one)

    BRAVO for the VETS!!! Call Mitt out! Now he wants to take away the benefits our Veterans have earned with their lives?

    I am disgusted with Teapublicans like Mitt, who want to cut the budget on the backs of the Poor, the Veterans, our Children's educations, the Elderly!

    Sure, Mitt, you want vouchers! How about CUTTING the salaries and BENEFITS Congress gets??????? Hmmm?

    Mitt, you have no compassion.

    November 15, 2011 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  20. New Age Independent

    It's been a while since I left the military, but they were in the process of moving to privatized health care then. Prior to that the care was sub-standard. You were stuck with whomever was available on that day, and more often than not had to settle for a PA. I fail to see why Democrats would want the military to suffer under that old system and not to have access to the private sector when it always meant better care.

    November 15, 2011 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  21. Name

    Where was her right to freedom of speech

    November 15, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  22. California Gary

    To answer your question sonny.......of course not. His boys can help out in "other" ways. It will be your sons and my sons that will have to enforce his foreign policy.

    November 15, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  23. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Whatever happened to the Good Old Days when Republicans used to be the ones who supported the Veterans? Oh, that's right, they all had exemptions so they didn't have to serve (except for Senators Graham and McCain)! I remember when Tom DeLay was House Majority leader and he said to the Chariman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee something to the effect that Veterans get too much money anyway. There is leadership for you.
    Sorry folks, but my dad and I are both Vets (he from WW2 and me from the Cold War SSBN fleet – that's 24/7 war alert footing). Today, at age 90, he was admitted as an in-patient at his local VA Hospital as we cannot afford for him to go to the big regional hospital. Romney's Rationed Veterans' care idea pretty much sucks.
    Congress has taken away juse about every benefit we Veterans had because they never understood the need for them. For God's sake, do not take away our health care benefits.

    November 15, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. Larry L

    When I was a new Army Officer in 1970 I was promised, if I stayed for a career, free healthcare for me and my wife for the rest of my life. That was the deal the Army offered – I didn't ask for it but it was a big part of the benefits package. Now retired after over 34 years of service, moving my family around when the Army told me, and multiple overseas deployments I get to pay health insurance premiums and a co-payment for medical care. The bean-counters told us we were never really "officially granted a guarantee for medical benefits". That was the deal and we all accepted the terms. Now this white shirt weasel with no military credentials wants to give the Tricare System to his corporate friends. People are always saying "thank you for your service". An old Army saying goes "BS doesn't feed the bulldog". I'm voting for President Obama.

    November 15, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  25. FIELD1stSGT

    Karen – Quite obviously you're going to the wrong Doctors. You need to go online and search Tricare Providers.com for a listing of participating Doctors who readily accept your insurance. I am a thirty year vet and have never had a problem in finding care. Quit going to quacks and start participating in the program. A vote for Romney is destruction to the health program for veterans.

    November 15, 2011 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
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