Roxanne Conlin, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, is calling for significant increases in the pay for soldiers serving in combat.
Conlin says to finance such a move, she’d end federal contracts with private companies providing military-related services in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. “The contracts I’m talking about canceling are those for Blackwater and other contract employees providing security services, doing what in the past military people have done,” Conlin says. “In the last administration’s quest to privatize everything in sight, they made very profitable contracts with Blackwater to substitute for our military members.”
Private contractors also work on some military-directed construction projects and make meals for U.S. soldiers. Conlin says those contracts should be phased out, too, but not immediately. “In terms of feeding the troops and housing the troops and those kinds of things, those are things that also used to be provided through the military, but there would have to be a transition period,” Conlin says.
Conlin held a news conference this morning to outline a variety of military-related proposals. She is calling for additional help for veterans, including a boost in the federal government’s tuition assistance programs for veterans and better counseling for returning soldiers who’re suicidal. “Surely as the mightiest military country in the history of the world we can do better and we must do better by our veterans,” Conlin said.
Conlin’s father and uncles were World War II veterans and she held her news conference near the World War II Memorial on the statehouse grounds in Des Moines. Listen to the 17-minute news conference: Conlin 16:46 Mp3
Conlin is challenging Republican Senator Chuck Grassley this fall. She pointedto a Disabled American Veterans ranking from 2006 which gave Grassley the “third lowest score” among senators on veterans issues.
In rebuttal, Grassley’s campaign cites the endorsement Grassley received from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee, saying it shows Grassley “stood squarely with America’s military” on a variety of issues. Grassley’s campaign manager says Conlin’s “daily attacks” on Grassley have become “outlandish.”