9:46am

Tue August 7, 2012
Regional Coverage

Buerkle wins veterans organization endorsement

Republican Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle is going into the November election with Onondaga County veterans on her side.  

The incumbent Buerkle has won the endorsement of the Onondaga County Veterans Party in the race for the 24th Congressional district. There are 40,000 veterans in Onondaga County. Party Chairwoman Linda Chew says the support of veterans can be substantial.

"There are about 40-thousand veterans in Onondaga County.  And I've had people tell me that they went door to door, and once they had an endorsement on a handout, someone said that if you are running on the veterans party line then I'm voting for you," said Chew. "Veterans have wives, sisters, brothers, parents.  It's far reaching."

Chew says the party interviewed Buerkle and her Democrat opponent Dan Maffei before making a decision.  They cite the work she's don't as the chairwoman of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health, as one reason for their support.

Buerkle has been vocal about veterans issues in her first term in office, using her position as head of the subcommittee to focus on issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, the reintegration of veteran's into civilian life, and sex abuse of veterans in Veterans Affairs programs.

The congresswoman says her job makes her appreciate veterans more than ever.

"As I serve on the Veteran's Affairs Committee, as I tour Brook Army Medical (Center) or Walter Reed or Bethesda Medical or our own local VA hospital which is also an excellent facility, the service and the sacrifice becomes more apparent."

One of the big issues that looms now for veterans is the impact of sequestration, the potential slashing of federal programs in 2013.

"That budget control act that led to sequestration, I voted against that and this is one of the reasons -- because sequestration will not only affect the Department of Defense, but also veterans," said Buerkle

Buerkle is not only facing Democrat Dan Maffei, but also Green Party Candidate Ursula Rozum in the November election.

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