1. What key policy positions does your party hold that made you choose to be affiliated with it?
The Green Party has long worked to use non-violent means to effect change. Greens support demilitarization of our foreign policy, a cut of 50% in military spending, the closing of all overseas military bases, and the complete disarmament of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. We would maintain a military that is completely capable of self-defense, while eliminating aggressive actions. The Green Party supports the people of the military, not the military-industrial complex which makes huge profits from the perpetual continuation of war.
2. In your opinion, what do you think are the leading issues facing today’s military members?
The primary problem facing military personnel is being forced to fight in illegal, immoral, unnecessary and unwinnable wars. This results in a multitude of deaths, injuries (both mental and physical) and presents a crisis of conscience situation for many in combat who do not wish to take the lives of others. Following discharge, veterans are much more likely to commit suicide, become homeless, become dependent on drugs or alcohol, and have significantly higher rates of divorce, spousal and child abuse.
3. What experience, if any, do you have with the military and veteran communities?
My running mate, Ajamu Baraka, is a veteran of the US military. I work closely with a number of veterans whose advice on foreign policy and defense has been integral to my understanding of critical issues.
4. In 2014, it came to light that veterans were facing dire issues in trying to navigate the Veterans Administration’s system, to include long wait lists to access healthcare. What actions would you take to find solutions to these problems?
First of all, let me make clear that I do not criticize the actual health care provided to veterans; the problem is it is often not readily available because of long wait times, or the lack of nearby facilities. Another problem that veterans face is the maze of paperwork and wait times to adjudicate disability claims. We owe it to our veterans to provide prompt, efficient service. I would never support the privatization of the Veterans Administration, and I support not only fully funding the Veterans Administration, but increasing its budget. This would be easily possible using the money saved by reducing runaway spending on wars and weapons.
5. Unemployment amongst military spouses continues to be a financial readiness issues for service members’ families with reported jobless rates being between 12 – 26 %. What resources would you devote to lowering those numbers?
Spouses face employment problems for several reasons: Employers are looking to hire people for the long term and military deployments are temporary. Military families may be stationed at a remote site with few opportunities available, or in a foreign country where language is an issue. Unfortunately, many military families are not able to make ends meet on the service member’s salary alone – many qualify for food stamps. The base pay of military members should be raised so that it not necessary for the spouse to obtain employment. I would eliminate the use of private contractor personnel who are paid several times what military personnel earn.
6. Many veterans choose entrepreneurship as a post-military career option because of the skills they learn in leadership. How will your administration support small business ownership for this population?
We would support the creation and development of post-military owned businesses by reinstituting provisions of the post-WWII GI Bill which provided low interest loans. Business advice as well as financial planning services should also be made available.
7. Military kids move on average every 2-3 years, and the average child may relocate 6-9 times during an academic career, according to DODEA. In turn, they face issues such as losing credits upon transfer or transitioning into curriculum that varies from their previous schools. What policies could your administration explore to help military children have a more successful foundation for their education?
It definitely can be hard on children to move frequently, for practical reasons as well as leaving behind familiar surroundings, teachers and friends. I would provide more funding to the Department of Education to hire more counselors to help these children adjust. I would also have the DOE create legislation which would honor the transfer of high school credits.
8. What in your professional experience has prepared you to take on the role as Commander-in-Chief?
As a medical doctor, I spent my professional career in an environment where I saw life or death situations and decisions all the time. I understand that these decisions are not to be taken lightly; rather, they demand the most serious thought and ethical consideration. As a doctor, I put my trust in skilled, knowledgeable and competent people around me, and as Commander-in-Chief I would surround myself with the highest caliber advisors to ensure that we can keep our country safe while never needlessly endangering the lives of Americans or others.
9. Military families entrust the Commander-in-Chief to make critical decisions that dictate the fate of their service member. What do you want them to know about what kind of leader you will be for their service member?
I will never deploy troops into illegal or unnecessary combat. I will use every non-violent means available to resolve international differences without violence, stressing diplomacy over warfare, so that we will dramatically reduce/eliminate the need for combat deployments. I will never authorize the use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or require servicemembers to be exposed to other toxic elements. When our members are injured, we will fully fund military health care to provide the best care possible. We would be supportive of members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and not treat it as something that is a fault or a weakness of the member. We would fully investigate and prosecute cases of Military Sexual Trauma, and eliminate the “blame the victim” mentality. Prosecutions of violators should be done outside of the military judicial system.
10. Under the Obama Administration, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden started Joining Forces – an initiative focused on the employment, education, and wellness of service members and their families. If elected, will you administration continue this program? Why or why not?
My administration would certainly support all programs which address these issues. Supporting our servicemembers should be a non-partisan issue and should be something that our government should fully support rather than relying solely on donation-funded veterans’ services programs like AMVETS or the American Legion.
11. What is the most effective way for voters to get to know you before Election Day?
I welcome voters to get to know me by taking a look at my website Jill2016.com and following me on social media. Make sure to check the event listings to see if there’s a campaign appearance near you – I am always happy to meet with people and talk about the issues facing our country.