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World War II veterans Bob Lawton, right, and Guy Deane talk before leaving Tuesday, June 5, 2012, from Owensboro, Ky.,on their journey to Washington to visit the war memorials on Wednesday, the anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/The Messenger-Inquirer, Jenny Sevcik) World War II veterans Bob Lawton, right, and Guy Deane talk before leaving Tuesday, June 5, 2012, from Owensboro, Ky.,on their journey to Washington to visit the war memorials on Wednesday, the anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/The Messenger-Inquirer, Jenny Sevcik)  

Veterans group launches week-long swing state bus tour

A veteran advocacy group is set to launch a ten-day East Coast bus tour through key swing states to build awareness of problems facing today’s veterans, using the slogan “We Can Do Better.”

“Our veterans deserve better and we can do better,” said Pete Hegseth, U.S. Army veteran and CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, in a statement.

The group will travel to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Ohio and give voters and veterans a chance to hear from leaders in the veterans’ community about critical military and veterans issues ranging from unemployment among veterans, to unfulfilled pension and compensation obligations, to military voting.

“There’s no better time to draw attention to veterans’ needs than during a presidential campaign,” Hegseth added. “Military issues continue to be a part of both parties’ platforms — as we’ve seen in recent debates — but that’s not enough. It’s time these issues were addressed with results, not just rhetoric.”

Looming defense cuts and the recent embassy attacks in Libya have brought military and foreign policy issues to the forefront of the presidential election.

“And we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts, because what that does when we equivocate on our values, when we show that we’re cutting down on defense, it makes us more weak,” Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said in the debate last week.

“It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us. They’re more brazen in their attacks, and are allies are less willing to,” Ryan added before being interrupted by Vice President Joe Biden.

Defense spending is set to be cut by $54 billion at the end of this year if no compromise is reached. According to CVA, these cuts could force the U.S. Army to lay off as many as 24,000 enlisted personnel and 5,000 officers. The Marine Corps could layoff as many as 20,000 as well.

The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is already at 10 percent.

“We need leadership from our president and Congress, real reform of bloated government institutions, and a responsible fiscal policy that will support the very freedom and prosperity our military men and women fight so hard to preserve,” he said.

The tour starts this Saturday in Manassas, Va.

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