Clark urges expanding reservist health care

Saturday, May 28, 2005


(AP) -- Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark used the Democrats' radio broadcast Saturday to insist that Reserve and National Guard members and their families should receive the same health insurance as the active force does.

"And just as importantly, we have got to keep our promises to veterans and provide them the medical care they need," Clark said. "That means fully funding the Veterans Administration system."

Clark, who ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, also noted that Memorial Day recalled personal memories for him.

"This Monday, I will be remembering those in uniform who served in World War II and Korea and inspired me to enter military service in 1962," he said.

"Like many others of my generation, I will also be remembering the many times I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. I will remember those who selflessly gave their lives and paid the ultimate price so that we could live in freedom."

Also timed for Memorial Day, the House Democratic campaign committee is rolling out an advertising campaign this weekend accusing House Republicans of failing to support National Guard and Reserve troops.

Radio commercials paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are planned for a dozen House districts.

The ads criticize Congress for rejecting a plan to extend health care coverage permanently to National Guard and Reserve members and their families. It would have given them similar benefits as active-duty troops through TRICARE, the military's health care system.

U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Mississippi, offered the proposal as the House debated a bill that sets defense policy and plans spending for next year. Many Republicans opposed Taylor's plan, saying it was too expensive.

The ads refer to 12 GOP congressmen by name, accusing them of denying "these heroes the health care they deserve."

The ads also implore constituents to tell their representative "he owes those who serve our nation more than Memorial Day speeches."

Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee, criticized the Democratic ad campaign as misguided and said the Democrats were "wasting their money 17 months from an election in districts that will not be competitive come Election Day."

The targeted Republicans include Reps. Rick Renzi of Arizona; Richard Pombo of California; Rob Simmons of Connecticut; John Hostettler and Mike Sodrel, both of Indiana; Edward Whitfield of Kentucky; Sam Graves of Missouri; Vito Fossella of New York; Charles Taylor of North Carolina; Bob Ney of Ohio; Timothy Murphy of Pennsylvania; and Dave Reichert of Washington.


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