Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who lost both legs when the helicopter she was piloting was shot down in Iraq, addressed the Democratic National Convention on Joe Biden’s longtime and genuine support for active military, their families, and veterans, both because he lived the experience and because he brings a genuine compassion, dignity, integrity to leadership. She offered some of the most damning accusations against the incumbent Donald Trump, calling him “Coward-in-Chief who won’t stand up to Vladamir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops’ heads.
“As President, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet. He would never pervert our military to stroke his own ego. He would never turn his back on our troops or threaten them against Americans peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights. Joe Biden would stand up for what’s right… stand tall for our troops… and stand strong against our enemies. Because unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common decency.”
Here are Senator Duckworth’s highlighted remarks:
Good evening. I’m Tammy Duckworth.
When I first enlisted in the Army, I was eager to serve my country… yet anxious whether I’d be able to earn my way into the ranks.
But I earned my wings and later commanded my own air assault unit, learning that serving—and leading—in the military is both a privilege and a sacrifice.
To be a commander, you must always put your Troops first—because one day, you may order them to sacrifice everything for our great nation.
To do that, leaders must command their Troops’ respect—and be worthy of their pledge to protect and defend our Constitution, no matter the cost.
But military service doesn’t just take sacrifice from those in uniform—it’s required from their families, too.
My husband Bryan was the one who rushed to Walter Reed after I was wounded in Iraq.
He was the one holding my hand, waiting for me to wake up…
…when I finally did, he was my rock, getting me through those hours… weeks… months of unspeakable pain and unending surgeries.
He was my anchor as I relearned to walk, helping me through every step… every stumble.
Our military spouses hold their families together… praying for their loved one’s safety wherever they’re deployed, serving as caregivers to our disabled servicemembers, then picking up the pieces and starting again whenever the next tour… or the next war… arises.
Joe Biden understands these sacrifices, because he’s made them himself.
When his son Beau deployed to Iraq, his burden was also shouldered by his family.
Joe knows the fear military families live with because he’s felt that dread of never knowing if your deployed loved one is safe.
He understands their bravery because he had to muster that same strength every hour of every day Beau was overseas.
That’s the kind of leader our servicemembers deserve: one who understands the risks they face and who would actually protect them by doing his job as Commander-in-Chief.
Instead they have a Coward-in-Chief who won’t stand up to Vladamir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops’ heads.
As President, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet.
He would never pervert our military to stroke his own ego.
He would never turn his back on our troops or threaten them against Americans peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights.
Joe Biden would stand up for what’s right… stand tall for our troops… and stand strong against our enemies.
Because unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common decency.
He has common sense.
He can command… from both experience and from strength.
Donald Trump doesn’t deserve to call himself Commander-in-Chief for another four minutes—let alone another four years.
Our troops deserve better.
Our country deserves better.
If you agree, text “MORE” to 3-0-3-3-0 to elect Joe Biden: a leader who actually cares enough about America to lead.
As Second Lady in the Obama Administration, Dr. Jill Biden worked closely with First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of bettering lives for military families. VP Joe Biden, candidate for President, is proposing a plan to reinvigorate and expand that program for military families, caregivers and survivors. This is from the Biden campaign:
FACT SHEET: The Biden Plan to Fulfill Our Commitment to Military Families, Caregivers and Survivors
As parents of a service member who deployed to Iraq, Vice
President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden understand that it’s not just military
members who sign up to serve our nation, their families do too. The Bidens
understand the sleepless nights, wondering if your deployed loved one is safe;
the difficulties children experience while their parent is serving far away;
and all the added sacrifices and challenges, big and small, military families
face because they choose selfless service. Our military families never fail to
give their best to the United States, and we owe them our best in return.
Less than one percent of Americans sign up to serve. They volunteer to
shoulder the sacrifices necessary to keep our country safe. That’s why Vice
President Biden has long been adamant that, as a nation, our one truly sacred
obligation is to properly prepare and equip our troops when we send them to
war, and to take care of them and their families — during deployments and when
they return home.
Building on the Biden Commitment to Military Families
The Obama-Biden Administration made support for our military families a
signature issue–and a personal priority. Together with First Lady Michelle
Obama, Dr. Biden created Joining Forces, a national initiative driving
top-level focus on the issues that matter to military families, service
members, and veterans including employment, education, and wellness. Joining
Forces supported opportunities that led to the hiring or training of more
than 1.5 million veterans and
military spouses and drove reforms in all 50 states to reduce credentialing
barriers for qualified military spouses seeking employment. Dr. Biden also
supported the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Military Spouse Employment
Partnership, which brought together hundreds of companies to help 100,000 military spouses find
As a life-long educator, Dr. Biden spearheaded “Educate the Educators”–a
commitment from more than 100 colleges and universities to
take steps to meet the unique needs of military-connected children–and championed the GI Comparison tool to
help veterans and military family members choose high-quality post-secondary
educational institutions. She also worked to make sure that all 50 states signed the Interstate
Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children to better
address relocation challenges facing military school-aged children.
Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden continued this commitment after leaving
office, making support for military families a key focus of their continued
public service. The Biden Foundation sought to drive
economic opportunity for military spouses, create supportive educational
environments for military-connected children, and change the conversation
around mental health for service members, veterans, and their families.
As President and First Lady, the Bidens will ensure we keep our national
commitment to military families by relaunching and strengthening Joining
Forces, making it a priority for a Biden Administration.
We know that many future service members come from military families. So family
readiness is integral to mission readiness, both now and in the future. This
cannot be an afterthought. It is a national security imperative, and it should
be resourced and supported as such.
Providing Resources for Military Spouses, Caregivers, and
Prioritizing Support for Military Children
President Biden will inspire a future generation of
Americans to volunteer for military service by ensuring we fulfill our
obligations to the generations who have already answered the call to serve our
country and by supporting the well-being of ALL military families.
Modernize Compensation to
Keep Pace with the Current Economy: Today,
more military families are struggling to make ends meet, and
some report food insecurity, lack of quality childcare, and poor financial health.
That is totally unacceptable. Military service members and their families risk
everything for our country–they must be guaranteed a living wage. But the
existing compensation framework simply does not allow military
families–especially those who are young and more vulnerable–to thrive in
today’s modern economy. President Biden will work aggressively to update the
federal workforce compensation framework for service members so that the
government leads the way in ensuring hard-working families can attain a middle
class life, and he will support legislation which will, in the meantime,
provide an additional allowance for military families living below the poverty
Create Stability by
Increasing Time between Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Moves: Every year, more than 400,000 Permanent Change of Station
(PCS) moves occur for service members and their families. This
system is expensive, and it is broken. Military families consider frequent
relocation as a driver for negative outcomes in career opportunities for military
spouses, military child education, and the
development of supportive social networks. While every service member and
family understands that mission is paramount, we must invest in solutions that
build stability for families and set conditions for service member retention
and military family well-being.
As president, Biden will commission research and develop solutions to support
the increase of time between PCS moves while ensuring we meet targets for
Operational and Personnel Tempo in order to meet our national security demands.
This will require that we comprehensively examine the potential positive and
negative impacts of any changes to deployment cycles, unit assignment policies,
and force size calculations. One such solution could be investing in the
creation of virtual or hybrid learning scenarios for mandatory Professional
Military Education (PME) so that service members and their families can remain
in place, rather than PCS to a new base for a short educational tour.
Ensure Military Spouse
Professional and Economic Opportunity: Military
spouses are often more highly educated than their civilian peers, yet they face
an unemployment rate of around 30%. Frequent relocation
and high operational tempos often stifle their career trajectory. The military
personnel system was designed with the single-earner family in mind, but many
military families, like their civilian counterparts, depend on earning a second
income or simply want the opportunity for the military spouse to pursue a
career. Military families are increasingly experiencing challenges such
as food insecurity or insufficient savings for
emergencies, and with far too many military spouses unemployed or
underemployed, meeting these needs is a challenge. LGBTQ military spouses may
also be disproportionately affected when they reside in states that are allowed
to discriminate based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Trump Administration has not only allowed but encouraged these
discriminatory practices, all while claiming to support the military. It’s
hypocritical and just plain wrong.
To increase economic opportunity for military spouses, President Biden will:
Invest $500 million in a 3-year Department of Defense (DOD)
military spouse entrepreneurship pilot program, which will provide
micro-grants, mentorship, and technical assistance to military spouses who are
interested in starting or growing small businesses.
Ensure that the DoD’s Military Spouse Education and Career
Opportunity office is fully funded and staffed so that effective programming
such as the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), My Career
Advancement Account (MyCAA) scholarships, and the Military Spouse Transition
Program (MySTeP) have the opportunity to deliver results and raise awareness
and utilization among military families.
Build bridges between the private sector and the U.S.
government to help educate employers about the value of military spouse talent,
drive commitments to hire, retain, and promote them, and create concrete career
opportunities, as Joining Forces did.
Expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to include
Undo the Trump administration’s discriminatory policies and
redouble efforts with state officials to ensure that LGBTQ military spouses
have the support they need to pursue successful careers.
Continue efforts begun during the Obama-Biden Administration
to put an end to unnecessary occupational licensing requirements. While
licensing is important in some occupations to protect consumers, in many
occupations licensing does nothing but thwart economic opportunity. If a
military spouse who works in an occupation that requires a license or
credential and has to move because of their military member’s career, they may
have to get certified all over again. As president, Biden will build on the
Obama-Biden Administration’s efforts to incentivize states to reduce unnecessary
licensing requirements and to ensure licenses are transferable from one state
to the next.
Fully fund installation-based child care facilities and
expand awareness of the DoD fee assistance program, as supported by leading advocates
for military families,, so that military spouses can more easily
pursue their educations and careers and tap into respite care to relieve
stressors of deployments.
for Caregivers:Caregivers of
wounded, ill, or injured service members and veterans face a variety of
challenges, including negative health outcomes, lost wages, and difficulties
planning their future. They are essential to military families and our
veterans, and we owe them the same commitment and support that they show to our
wounded, ill, or injured service members and veterans.
As president, Biden will:
Ensure that caregivers of active duty service members
receive adequate professional and peer support, including competent mental
health care, financial readiness training, and transition support throughout
the rehabilitation timeline (whether that is leading to the service member’s
medical retirement or a return to duty).
Provide transparency and high-touch case management via
in-person or telehealth sessions with caregiver coordinators for those
caregivers enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Caregiver
Support Program, especially to provide personalized assistance as they navigate
dual eligibility for benefits and services from both the DoD and VA.
A critical part of meeting our commitment to military
families is to do so on time, something the Trump Administration has failed to
do. President Biden will ensure that the eligibility expansion for the VA
Caregiver Support Program meets its timelines and collects longitudinal
satisfaction data through regular surveying of those enrolled or enrolling in
Help caregivers of wounded, ill, injured, or elderly
veterans pay for long-term care by providing relief through the creation of a
$5,000 tax credit for informal caregivers, modeled off of legislation supported
by AARP. This tax credit will be in addition to the financial support provided
by the VA Caregiver program.
Support proposals to expand opportunities for much needed
respite care for caregivers, to include those offered within DoD, VA, and
through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Institute a waiver for the Survivors’ and Dependents’
Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 35), so that spouses and survivors who
have not accessed their benefits in the allotted time frame will have the
opportunity to request additional time.
Improve Military Child
Education: There are more
than 1 million children of active
duty service members worldwide. Whether they are educated in Department of
Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, local school districts, parochial
schools, home schools, or online schools, military children require support to
ensure they have every opportunity to succeed in their education.
As president, Biden will:
Propose legislation to expand the Military Student
Identifier (MSI) to all military-connected
children (to include children of National Guard and Reserve personnel
regardless of activation/order status), children of veterans, and children of
deceased service members or veterans, who are often impacted by the service of
their parents. Under the Obama-Biden Administration, we passed into law the
Every Student Succeeds Act, which included the MSI, a designation that allows
educators and schools to better understand where military-connected children
are receiving their education, and how we can better support
them. Currently, the MSI extends only to children of active duty service
members, excluding children of National Guard, Reserve, veterans, caregivers,
and children of the fallen. But these children face unique challenges too,
and we need to know who they are so we can determine what support they need .
Promote efforts across states to streamline enrollment
requirements, standardize educational resources, and train teachers and
school-based leadership to ensure we are meeting the unique needs of military
children effectively, no matter where they study or how often they have to
Promote greater awareness of the Interstate Compact on
Educational Opportunity for Military Children among military families,
teachers, and administrators.
Create and disseminate training tools that empower
military-connected parents to better advocate for their children.
Provide financial incentives for school districts to train
educators on the unique needs and barriers faced by military-connected youth so
that they are able to help military children thrive, no matter where they
receive their education.
Support and protect post-9/11 GI benefits for veterans and
qualified family members by strengthening the GI Bill Comparison Tool and
School Feedback Tool to help put an end to post-secondary institutions’
Enact legislation eliminating the so-called 90/10 loophole
that gives for-profit schools an incentive to enroll veterans, service members,
and military family members who are using the GI Bill or Tuition Assistance in
programs that aren’t delivering results.
Improve Behavioral Health Services for Military Dependents: Children and spouses in military families are
resilient, but they do experience high levels of stress, whether due to
frequent moves, deployment and training schedules of the service member, or
weak social/emotional support networks. School-age children and adolescents who
experience separation from a parent (either through deployment or other
assignments) show higher levels
of emotional and behavioral distress. About 25 percent of high
school freshmen and juniors in a military family have reported suicidal
thoughts during the previous year, and the stresses of military life can exacerbate health issues,
among them depression, anxiety, or substance use disorders.
Biden has committed to achieving mental health parity, expanding access to
behavioral health care, and removing the stigma surrounding behavioral health
issues. He will redouble our efforts to ensure enforcement of mental health
parity laws and expand funding for mental health services.
It is also essential that we invest in an infrastructure that promotes health
and well-being, reduces risky behaviors, and provides timely, convenient access
to high-quality mental health and substance use/abuse services for military
dependents. We must ensure that DoD facilities are fully staffed, equipped,
resourced, and able to support the behavioral health of military dependents. If
this capacity is not in place, we must invest in solutions to create additional
affordable, accessible, and high-quality capacity in the civilian sector. Care
must be effective and grounded in evidence-based treatments. Providers must be
culturally competent, educated in the unique needs of military families. And
families who seek support should never go into debt for treatment or be
concerned about confidentiality.
The Biden Administration will:
Increase funding for and expand access to telehealth for
military families, particularly in areas not able to access timely care.
Expand the number of free, non-medical Military OneSource
counseling sessions for military families from 12 sessions to 18
and expand access to Coast Guard families regardless of activation status.
Invest in recruiting and retaining behavioral health care
professionals in military treatment facilities to ensure there are enough
clinicians to support the needs of not only our active duty force, but military
Redefine the federal “Health Professional Shortage Areas”
(HPSAs) to specifically include military-impacted geographies.
Expand the National Health Services Corps to incentivize
early professional behavioral health providers to serve this population.
Re-prioritize and expand the work of the Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) interagency task force on the
behavioral health needs of veterans and military families, to include issues
related to traumatic brain injury, substance use disorder and addiction, and
other related conditions. Additionally, President Biden will fully restore SAMHSA’s focus on
evidence-based solutions and appoint a specific position on the
Domestic Policy Council to drive a whole-of-government focus on these
Direct the Department of Defense to produce a robust, annual
report on the state of military family behavioral health, in coordination with
VA and SAMHSA.
Housing: The government has
broken its trust with military families by providing sub-par housing. Now, we
have to work twice as hard to rebuild this trust. That will require the utmost
transparency and accountability from both the government and the private sector
partners charged with housing the families of our service members.
The Biden Administration will:
Enforce a comprehensive and standardized tenant bill of
rights for all military families, and as advocates have rightly demanded,
ensure DoD senior leadership enforces compliance. We won’t be making more
empty promises to military families. We will hold these landlords, and
Require regular, standardized, objective, and published
reporting of military family satisfaction and concerns from all housing.
Establish a public-facing document outlining expectations of
quality and consequences for all housing providers and, when necessary,
terminate long-term leases held by private companies.
Families: Long periods of
sustained war-fighting have made us reactive in our responses to military
family needs. To best support these families and optimize their health and
well-being, we must improve our understanding of their current and emerging
needs. We can’t be caught on our heels. We must anticipate and prepare
solutions that respond to the evolving needs of military families across the
military life cycle. We must be able to track and identify emerging trends so
that we can be nimble and responsive to the changing needs of our military
As president, Biden will:
Convene a multi-disciplinary working group of policy makers,
program leaders, and research and subject-matter experts to construct a
strategic research plan to inform solutions to support military families.
Designate specific resources for research and development
related to military families outcomes within the budget of the Office of the
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, to include resources
for research within both the Military Family and Community Policy and the
Defense Health Program.
Require that DoD work across the federal government to
leverage national and state-level assessments of health and well-being to
ensure they appropriately assess military affiliation in ongoing data
collections across the United States. It is imperative that all national
surveys include variables that allow us to examine how well military families
fare relative to others.