Magazine article Insight on the News

Veterans' Affairs Are a Dole Issue

Magazine article Insight on the News

Veterans' Affairs Are a Dole Issue

Article excerpt

Bob Dole, seriously injured during World War II, always has aligned himself with Disabled American Veterans, but a recent scheduling conflict thwarted his efforts to speak at the group's convention.

The dog days of summer took another bite out of Bob Dole's campaign recently when the Republican presidential nominee passed up an opportunity to address the convention of Disabled American Veterans, citing scheduling problems.

Dole, however, is a longtime member of the DAV, a group with special ties to the former Senate majority leader. In February 1945, then-Lt. Bob Dole was sent to the front as a replacement in a combat unit of the 85th Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division. Seven weeks later, barely two weeks before the war in Europe ended, he was severely wounded during an assault on a German machine-gun nest.

This led to 39 months of hospitalization during which he nearly died as a result of infection. He emerged without the use of his right arm but with a seriousness of purpose forged by pain and recovery. Dole then attended college on the GI Bill before entering politics in Kansas.

This background came into play during Dole's 35 years on Capitol Hill, where he was a strong supporter of veterans' causes, such as extensions of the GI Bill, and the rights of disabled people -- he was a key mover behind the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.

In fact, Dole continues to influence legislation on veterans' issues, even after resigning his Senate seat, says Ron Miller, the director of Veterans for Dole. Dole worked with House Republican leadership as well as Rep. Bob Stump, an Arizona Republican, on the recently passed "Eligibility Reform Bill," which streamlines and simplifies the eligibility requirements for using the Veterans Affairs health-care system.

Health care and the myriad benefits -- ranging from education to burial -- are the major interest of many politically active veterans and the major veterans' organizations, Miller tells Insight. "That is one of the things that can influence their vote; another sideline issue they're very interested in is defense. As you know, the senator has been a very strong advocate on both of those issues over his long career in Congress."

Sources inside the campaign describe the DAV incident as more of an accident than anything else; an effort was made for two weeks prior to the DAV convention to arrange an appearance. When the itineraries could not mesh, Dole offered to do a satellite hookup, but the details could not be arranged. …

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