BOSTON — Veterans’ issues took center stage Saturday at rallies for both U.S. Senate candidates in Massachusetts. Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren appeared with Vietnam War veterans who rose to prominence in the United States Senate.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona joined Brown at a campaign rally in Melrose. McCain, who was a prisoner of war for more more than five years, says the U.S. is not doing enough to make sure veterans receive the benefits they earn. He said it takes more than 400 days for a vet to get a claim processed through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“My friends, that’s outrageous, it’s gotta change, and it’s gonna change,” McCain said. “And we need, we need more people like Scott Brown and me to put their feet in the fire.”
Brown said McCain was the only senator who would see him when he was running in the special election against Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, following the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy.
“We spent a good half and hour together,” Brown said. “He said, ‘Scott, you know what? You are a wonderful young man. I appreciate your military service and your dedication to your public service, but you don’t have a chance.’ ”
Brown won that election, and now he’s fighting to hang on to his seat. Polls show an extremely close race, and it’s among the most closely-watched Senate races in the country.
Shortly after Brown’s rally, Warren supporters packed a Baptist church in Beverly. Former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia made the case for why Warren would be the best advocate for veterans.
Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, highlighted Warren’s work as a consumer advocate — specifically on behalf of veterans.
“She didn’t forget that sometimes veterans and service members and certainly young people who come back from war are sometimes the victims of financial fraud,” Cleland said.
Warren said she understands military families because all three of her brothers served, including her oldest brother, who was “career military.”
“He did 288 combat missions in Vietnam,” Warren said of her brother. “I learned what it means to have somebody away, and in harm’s way, what it means to families all across this country.”
With just 17 days left before the election, both candidates are urging their supporters to do everything they can to help them win.