VFW has concerns about 2016 presidential candidates

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COLUMBIA - Veterans are just one of many groups hoping to have their interests represented well during the next presidential administration.

VFW Commander Don Briggs said he feels the majority of the candidates for 2016 do not think of veterans' issues as a main priority.

"Veterans' rights, right now, are not at the forefront," Briggs said. "Even though we've got a war going on, they're just not on the forefront. Before, we used to have a lot of politicians that actually served either in the Army, Air Force or in the service, and there's less and less of them every year."

The VFW's financial officer, Kim Wischmeyer, said the lack of military background among the candidates causes him concern because leaders with military experience relate better to veterans' issues.

"Those who have had military background understand what veterans' needs are, not just the ones coming home but the older ones that have already been home," Wischmeyer said.

One of the issues important to veterans is the type of health care they receive. There is debate between opposing political groups on whether to provide more private care options or focus on reforming the current VA system.

While Briggs said he supports the VA system, he also said more private care options should be mixed in.

He said there are people living in Boone County that don't get the same type of care than those in Columbia, because they would have to travel further.

"If they could get private care and have it paid for by the VA, it tends to be a better situation," Briggs said.

Wischmeyer said he also supports the idea of more private care options.

"If there's something that the VA care doesn't have, I don't see why not," Wischmeyer said. "But I don't think that we need to be cutting anything from the VA. If anything we should be sitting there making it more accessible."

The VFW staff remains hopeful veterans' issues will be addressed no matter who wins the presidency.