2020 Democratic presidential candidate and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang unveiled a new plan Monday to improve services for veterans. Dubbed “More Than A Handshake,” the plan is aimed at improving education, healthcare and readjustment services for members of the military returning to civilian life.
One of the major tenets of Yang’s plan includes changing the domestic certifications required for jobs at home that use skills attained in the service. Under the plan, one who worked as a paramedic or nurse in the military would be able to work as an EMT or in a similar position upon leaving the military without having to go through additional certification courses for special licensing.
“In short, if someone is qualified to do a job in the military, they should be qualified to do that job in the US,” the campaign said in a statement announcing the new proposal.
Requiring one to go through courses to receive licensing for a job one has already been trained to do, was “wasteful,” the campaign said, and “disrespects the work done in the military.”
Yang’s plan would also make changes to education benefits currently provided to veterans under the GI Bill, streamlining the process for veteran service members to receive funds for classes and requiring additional flexibility from universities for veterans in choosing courses and a civilian career path. The proposal also requires states to provide in-state tuition at public institutions for veterans regardless of how long one has lived in the state.
Under the plan’s “Veterans Health Initiative,” the campaign expects to cut veteran suicide rates by at least half by spending more on prevention efforts and research. In addition, the proposal includes more funding for doctors who specialize in women and transgender health issues and provides options for these veterans to seek treatment outside of VA services. Yang also wants to fund research into marijuana and other currently controlled substances to analyze their impacts on PTSD and pain management.
“We owe it to our veterans to do everything possible to help them manage any health issues they have,” Yang’s campaign policy states.
To tackle veteran homelessness, Yang wants to create a required “Reverse Boot Camp” for members of the military ending their service, where they would become acquainted with all of the services the VA has to offer and to ease the transition back to civilian live. The program would feature courses on grocery shopping, cooking, nutrition, financial literacy and personal finance.
Other 2020 candidates have also released proposals aimed at helping veterans. Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke announced a proposal in June that features a “War Tax” placed on households without family member either currently or formerly serving in the armed forces.
Revenues from O’Rourke’s tax would be placed in a “Veterans Health Care Trust Fund” going to pay for veteran services to spread the burden of military conflict.
Democratic candidate and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) also released a plan on veteran issues in May targeting mental health services mandating annual checkups for both veterans and active-duty members. Similar to Yang’s proposal, Moulton also aims to place a greater spotlight on the use of marijuana to help veterans overcome certain issues.
Yang is one of three outsider candidates with no political experience other than self-help author Marianne Williamson who once ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from California and Tom Steyer, a billionaire who has built a national profile on applying outside pressure to House Democrats in an effort to impeach Trump.
Consistently polling in the bottom-tier of Democrats running the race, Yang has still managed to qualify for both rounds of debates, the first held in Miami in June and the second round in Detroit next week.
Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of polls show Yang with an average of 1.4 percent support, placing the 44-year-old candidate in the top ten candidates but far behind the front-runners in the race.