ness and understand that military families face unique concerns and challenges. Preparing for the future must mean ensuring they have the support and resources they need not only helps our nation attract and retain the most talented service members; it is also the right thing to do. As President, I will: • Realign the demands of a military career in service to the nation to accommodate 21st century family realities while maintaining a strong force • Back military spouses as they pursue education, seek jobs, build careers, and secure their finances • Ensure military children receive a high-quality education and the resources to succeed • Bring key resources for military families into the information age • Champion efforts to care for our military members and families • Continue and build on the Obama Administration’s effort to elevate military families in the White House and across the government

Some studies have proposed mak- ing the military benefit package (retirement, health care, etcetera) substantially like that of civilian workers. In view of the dramatically

different demands and sacrifices entailed in military versus civilian careers, to what extent do you be- lieve the military must maintain a unique benefit package to attract a high-quality career force? Our people set us apart and help make our military so exceptional. I will make it a top priority of my Ad- ministration to continue to attract, recruit, and retain the talented peo- ple who make up our force. Competi- tive compensation and benefits are one reason so many men and women join and decide to stay in the military, which I agree certainly does require unique demands and sacrifices.

72 MILITARY OFFICER OCTOBER 2016 I believe we always have to find

a way to do better on behalf of our people and their loved ones. As a senator and a member of the Senate Armed Services Commit- tee, I worked to preserve, protect, and enhance critical compensation and benefits for our service mem- bers and their families. I worked across the aisle to provide afford- able health insurance for our mem- bers of the National Guard and Reserve, prevent the closure of schools and commissaries in the height of war, expand benefits af- forded to surviving spouses, and broaden protections afforded by the Family and Medical Leave Act to the family members of wounded service members. As President, I will support smart compensation and benefits reform that attract the best and brightest to our military. The new military re- tirement system, for example, must be carefully put in place, so that our troops and their families make the most of the new opportunities it presents.

Similarly, military pay must con-

tinue to keep pace with the com- mercial sector, and we must keep our military health system at the cutting-edge in quality and avail- ability of care. I will make the Joining Forces

Initiative a permanent part of the White House to advocate for initia- tives that help veterans find jobs and improve support to military families. The sacrifices our service mem-

bers make are extremely important. There are also a great number of civilians doing very critical jobs, deploying overseas, and sacrificing. We must meet our commitments to our service members and their families, and we need to do more to recognize and support the impor- tant work our civilians are doing as well.

Recent VA budgets have been increased substantially, but many wartime veterans will need con- tinuing support for decades. What is your view on how this national obligation can be met in the face of increasing budget constraints? Supporting our veterans is a sacred responsibility. Fulfilling that re- sponsibility ensures that veterans receive the opportunity, care, and support they earned by serving our country. The systemic failures of the VA to

uphold its core mission underscore the need for fundamental reforms and focused leadership. Long wait times for health care, crippling claims backlogs, and lack of coor- dination among agencies represent government at its worst. I recognize the gravity of these challenges, and as President, I will pursue a veteran-centric reform agenda that tackles problems head-on and revi- talizes the VA. I will end the excuses and ensure our veterans receive the timely health care they deserve. I will also oppose the privatization of the VA system, which would undermine our veterans’ ability to get the unique care that only the VA can provide while leaving them vulnerable to a health care market poorly suited to their needs. And I will lead a national effort to invest in and empower veterans to apply their considerable skills in their communities. To ensure the VA and other fed-

eral agencies have the resources they need to serve veterans, I will advocate for permanently ending the sequester, and I will prioritize full funding of the VA, and advance appropriations for the entire agency. My administration will invest

in the pillars of the VA to ensure it continues to serve veterans for decades to come. To be prepared for the unique and growing needs of the twenty-first


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