Military gets top billing at convention

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RALEIGH – Military service was a hot topic at this years N.C. GOP convention as veterans filled the delegate ranks and listened carefully for solutions to veteran unemployment and the V.A. hospital crisis.

“I wanted to be on the Senate Armed Services Committee because men and women in uniform are willing to lay down their lives to protect the United States.  We have to have people on Armed Services willing to do whatever it takes to protect them,” N.C. Sen. Thom Tillis told the group. “We have to have the most prepared, best trained military in the world.”

Also on the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, Tillis is leading a task group to help the Veterans Administration develop a new business strategy for improving how it delivers medical care.

“You cannot get an organizational chart from the V.A. — I am not kidding,” he told a small group of reporters. “I am going to focus on what we need to do to change as an enterprise. What can we do to achieve sustained, measurable progress.”

In the convention, Tillis asked members of the military to stand for recognition from the crowd.

“We have the greatest military that ever existed. We have to make it clear that if America is threatened, we will go to wherever they are to defend freedom,” he told the delegates. “The president’s number one objective should be to protect the people of the United States. I will not sign anything short of Iran never having a nuclear weapon.”

In his speech to delegates, Governor McCrory talked about efforts to improve the benefits available to veterans and military members in North Carolina.  New legislation signed into law this session would allow part of military members’ training to count toward civilian work training.

“If you’ve driven a truck under fire in Afghanistan, maybe you can bypass some truck driving courses in North Carolina,” he said. “We also allowed veterans to get in-state tuition when they return and want to continue their education, because they’ve earned that.”

North Carolina has eight military bases and nearly 110,000 active duty military members. The state has the third largest military population in the nation.