DEMOCRATS ABROAD PLATFORM 2020
History has taught us about the futility of armed aggression, its inability to solve problems, and its utter inhumanity. It inevitably involves civilian casualties which jeopardize the relations necessary for finding real solutions. Diplomatic efforts must always be favored first in resolving international crises because American blood is our most precious resource. Democrats Abroad supports a strong defense of the United States and its vital security interests, but we advocate that military force be used as a last resort.
Diversity in Our Military
Our Armed Forces – especially leadership at the most senior levels – must become more diverse, better reflecting the gender as well as ethnic and religious composition of our country. All capable Americans – including transgender people – should be encouraged to join the United States military, and we support gender equality initiatives such as those that led to the opening of the Army Infantry, Armor, and Special Operations Units to women. We denounce the continued prevalence of sexual assault in the military, which an astounding 25% of military women report. The Department of Defense must protect military sexual assault survivors and remove sexual assault prosecutions from the chain of command and military tribunals to civilian jurisdictions. Additional funding for outreach, recruitment, training, and retention of young people for our Armed Forces must be provided.
Supporting and Honoring our Troops, Military Families, and Veterans
We fully support the members of our Armed Forces, whose service and dedication deserve our deepest respect and gratitude, as do the contributions and sacrifices of their families. Our service members must have abundant high-quality training and resources both to meet traditional challenges and to conduct anti-terrorist operations, peacekeeping missions, and emergency humanitarian actions.
To recruit and reward high quality service members, Congress should increase wages and benefits for those in active service and, as an incentive for service, veterans’ benefits as well. While military spending cannot be unlimited – and waste, fraud, and abuse must always be combated – any budget reductions should not adversely impact our military members and their families.
We call for strong measures to facilitate the military-to-civilian transition.
We adamantly denounce any diversion of military construction funds appropriated by Congress and vehemently oppose the use of any military funds to build a border wall.
Honoring Our Veterans and Our Troops
We call for the provision of full health care for veterans, their domestic partners, and their children and for reimbursement of any costs incurred by receiving emergency care outside the United States.
Accompanying dependents must be provided with high quality educational opportunities to facilitate a change of duty station and to enable access later to institutions of higher learning. Military dependents must be exempt from taxes on survivor benefits.
Immigrants must be granted American citizenship that was promised them in return for military service. We condemn their unjustified deportation and we condemn denying certain citizenship rights to dependents of U.S. personnel deployed overseas.
We call for strong measures to facilitate the military-to-civilian transition, including guaranteed funding of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), which must never be privatized. Such funds must never again be sequestered. We call for increased Veterans Administration funding and resources to address veteran homelessness, including collaboration with community-based nonprofit groups providing transitional housing. We specifically support efforts to improve the plight of African American, Native, Hispanic, and women veterans who disproportionately experience homelessness. We call for compensating African American veterans or their dependents for benefits denied them despite their service in World War II.
We applaud measures and institutions which encourage veteran employment, and support increased VA funding to that end.
We salute the continued success of the post-9/11 GI Bill in extending benefits to an increasing number of veterans and active military, including access to education and support services for career advancement for spouses and other family members.
We call for the provision of full health care for veterans, their domestic partners, and their children, and for reimbursement for any costs incurred in receiving emergency care outside the United States.
We call for linking VHA medical requirements to contingency planning for U.S. military combat commands and for expanding VHA funding to strengthen its network of medical centers and state-supported nursing homes. Increased VHA funding should focus on returning soldiers’ mental health care and reducing wait-times for veterans seeking medical attention. Health care delayed is health care denied and can contribute to suicide.
We favor awarding the Purple Heart, along with relevant additional care and benefits, to all injured military personnel suffering from properly verified mental or brain injury incurred during military service, including post-traumatic stress (PTS), the treatment of which should include the use of medical marijuana instead of opiates.
We salute the widely available treatment for military sexual trauma (MST) for all genders. We call for curtailing the heightened documentation threshold currently necessary to determine eligibility for disability compensation for post-traumatic stress (PTS) based on MST. Compensation for MST is a rightful veteran benefit.
We call for quality health care and compensation for all veterans who suffer from cancer due to military service-related radiation or chemical exposure.
We recognize every veteran’s right to an appropriate military funeral, and we support increased funding for national cemeteries.
We call for renegotiation of collective bargaining agreements at the VA as ordered by the Office of Personnel Management, and we call for enabling employees to report mismanagement, employee abuse, and any other abuse. We support efforts to secure VA employee rights, and we call for the withdrawal of Executive Orders curtailing representational work during official time and requiring unions to rent space.
The United States must never again be the first to use a nuclear weapon. We support the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons and the negotiation of treaties to that end. We also support U.S. ratification of the Ottawa Treaty on anti-personnel mines.
We call for comprehensive review of the worldwide network of U.S. military bases to assess their utility to protecting U.S. vital interests, bearing in mind however that the effects of any base closure must include those on American veterans residing nearby.
The outsourcing of critical security and military functions to private contractors should be curtailed. If not, they must be subject to strong oversight.
International Traffic in Arms Regulations issued by the Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls must be strictly observed.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) used as attack platforms often bring disastrous consequences both for civilian populations in target areas and for their remote operators; this practice must be re-evaluated on moral and ethical grounds.
The environmental burden of military facilities both at home and abroad must be reduced or eliminated.
We denounce diversion of military construction funds appropriated by Congress for other purposes to build a U.S./Mexico border wall.