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Here’s what veterans want to hear from candidates about their health care at the first GOP presidential debate

By Concerned Veterans for America

The 2024 election cycle is already underway with the first GOP presidential debate taking place August 23 in Milwaukee.

The debate will feature a full roster of the candidates for the GOP ticket who have qualified according to their fundraising and polling numbers. The candidates will use this first debate as a chance to plant a flag for who they might be as president, and we hope to hear some of their thoughts on how they’d approach veterans issues, specifically veterans health care.

We asked veterans what they’re hoping to hear candidates talk about during the debate.


I want to hear from the candidates about how they will bridge the partisan divide to hold the VA accountable for how it delivers care to veterans. To really make a difference for veterans, we need the parties to come together to empower veterans with choice over our health care and to hold the often-harmful VA health care accountable in ensuring it meets its mission to our veterans.

Ryan Gerchman, Nevada

Marine Corps veteran


I’d like to see unanimous support from all candidates on giving veterans true choice over their health care delivery. As a former VA employee myself, I know veterans deserve better than being stuck in a bureaucratic system that doesn’t always put our needs first.

Jessica Villarreal, Texas

Army veteran


The VA hasn’t told me when I was eligible for community care or telehealth appointments; I had to ask for those options. Luckily, I knew to ask, but so many veterans I know have never heard of these choices. What are the candidates ideas for making sure the VA educates veterans on all their options, not just the VA as an option?

Leo Garcia, Nevada

Air Force veteran


As a Coast Guard veteran that chose to serve, and risked my life to save others, including in Iraq, I want to know why the VA is preventing me from having a choice over which doctor I see.

Frank Bullock, South Carolina

Coast Guard veteran


I’ve struggled a lot with VA health care. I thought the MISSION Act would help, but so many veterans like me still are stuck with the red tape and bureaucracy. I want to hear how candidates plan to reform the VA and give veterans choice once and for all.

Adam Miller, Ohio

Marine Corps veteran


I hear veterans in my home state of Texas and around the country talking about losing their brothers and sisters to suicide. Allowing veterans who use the VA to access community care more easily would help immensely. I want to know what the candidates plan to do to end this tragic epidemic.

Russ Duerstine, Texas

Air Force veteran



As a retiree from the Army, I have health benefits that I can take to a doctor of my choice. If I don’t like that doctor, I simply find a better one. Why don’t my fellow veterans who left the military before retirement get the same choice options with their VA care benefits? How will the candidates fix the disparities in this care?

Jimmie T. Smith, Florida

Army veteran


I’m able to use TRICARE as a medically retired veteran, and it has been a great experience. Choosing doctors and hospitals that fit my unique situation rather than only going through the VA provides me so much relief. Do the candidates see a way to provide that same choice to veterans who use the VA for their care?

Amanda Tallman, Arizona

Army veteran


Learn about our ideas for reforming veterans health care.