In this year’s election, Obama is making major strides to secure veterans, active duty service men and women and their families, groups that he lost in his last election.
He’s using his efforts in ending the U.S. involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq and the operation that found and killed Osama Bin Laden to gain support from military. Recently he’s made it a point to garner support from veterans and military personnel and upped the funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs, implemented the newest G.I. Bill, and created programs to help returning troops find jobs.
He’s taking on a difficult task to enter a group that historically has almost wholly supported GOP candidates. Especially for a democratic member of the government who originally opposed the way in Iraq, has not served in the military, and whom Republicans reproach as a feeble leader, Obama has his work cut out for him. Republican candidates generally define themselves as the party of the military who hone their efforts on national security.
However, possibly to the GOP’s disadvantage, veterans and active-duty members of the armed forces aren’t as predictable anymore. More and more women, minorities, and young citizens are joining the military and returning as veterans. These sub groups are who fueled Obama’s 2008 win. At a recent campaign function for Timothy M. Kaine, a democratic senatorial candidate in Virginia, 30-year-old Lauren Zapf who served as a member of the Navy in the Persian Gulf said she supports Obama for his work on social policies regarding women and military families and for what he’s done with policy changes in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Zapf, the American veteran now has a new face. With its heavy military influence, Virginia will be a major focus for both candidates in this year’s election. Obama started off his official general election campaign in Richmond and Mitt Romney spoke in Hampton Roads, a hotbed of military personnel and families, that same week.
Though Obama didn’t win over military and veterans in his last election, he did manage to surpass former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry who served in Vietnam by winning with veterans younger than 60. He’s now focusing campaigning in military influenced states like North Carolina and Colorado.
Obama has spent time getting to know the veterans of today with outreach, an approach that hasn’t really been used before now. Older veterans may be a more difficult group to infiltrate, but Obama hopes to win over the younger group who are leaning toward liberalism, especially in the social policies arena. Most of the group hopes for an end to the two wars Obama took over when he took office as many of them fought in those wars.
Obama is working to create an easier transition for returning troops and veterans. From educational support, to job support, to allocation of funds to veteran programs, and support of a lenient and reduced-cost military VA loan to help families get a mortgage, Obama is supporting the military and their families in ways other than declaring war.
Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.