In between political conventions, both major party presidential candidates will appear at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention next week to discuss their campaigns and priorities for Veterans Affairs reform if they become commander in chief.
The event, to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, is expected to bring together almost 12,000 veteran leaders of the group from around the country. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak Monday morning, while Republican nominee Donald Trump will speak on Tuesday.
In a statement, VFW National Commander John Biedrzycki Jr. called the appearances a chance to advance the national political conversation on military and veterans issues.
“What we hope to hear from both candidates is how they will fight our enemies while keeping America safe through strong national defense and homeland security programs,” he said.
“We also want to know how they will create, enhance and protect veteran and military health care programs and quality-of-life initiatives, such as educational benefits, job training and employment programs, as well as hear a renewed commitment to return our fallen from their battlefields.”
The VFW convention has become a regular stop for presidential candidates during their national campaigns. In 2012, both President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney visited the event, with Obama discussing his administration’s veterans outreach programs and Romney focusing largely on national security issues.
Veterans have become a major friction point for Trump and Clinton in this year’s race, with both sides arguing over patient access to non-VA medical care. Republicans have pushed for a massive expansion of those choices, while Democrats have accused them of trying to privatize the VA system.
Trump mentioned his veterans proposals during his acceptance speech at the Republican convention in Cleveland on Thursday. The Democratic convention begins in Philadelphia on Monday, with Clinton expected to deliver her acceptance speech Thursday.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.