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The Debate: Military and Veterans

Updated: Oct 25, 2022

If voters walked away with only one clear message from last night's debate, it'll be this:

"Rebekah Jones is the candidate who will fight to keep our military infrastructure in tact and build a much-needed VA hospital in our district; Matt Gaetz said he wants to abolish the VA entirely."

Gaetz falsely took credit for the Veteran's Choice Program, which was written and passed during President Obama's administration in 2014 - two years before Gaetz was even in Congress.

And Veterans Choice isn't a solution to the healthcare crisis veterans currently face.

Northwest Florida's healthcare infrastructure already lacks sufficient resources for specialized medicine, including psychiatry, trauma as well as long-term and preventative care.

We need a VA hospital with supporting services that can address the unique health needs of those who have served. A regular family doctor will not have the specialized kinds of training needed to treat traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, cancers caused by toxic exposure and combat wound treatment and recovery.

Matt Gaetz falsely took credit for military spending approved by Presidents Trump and Biden. When confronted about the three missions he LOST to other states during his tenure, he said "you win some, you lose some."

Gaetz gained zero and lost three.

Even those comments don't hold a candle to the sheer ignorance Gaetz has about what the VA does for our veterans.

"Yes, I want to abolish the VA," Gaetz said.

The VA does more than just provide health insurance, as Gaetz believes.

The VA provides education benefits, job training, re-entry assistance, survivor benefits and assistance, family benefits and assistance, pensions, disability benefits, home loans, life insurance, burial benefits, survivor support, and so much more.

Gaetz said he will eliminate all of it.


Matt Gaetz said one of his priorities if re-elected is to abolish the VA. In the six years Matt Gaetz spent his government salary drinking and partying anywhere but here, we lost three military missions, the staff who worked in roles supporting that infrastructure, and the families who built lives here, went to school here, wanted futures here.

Matt Gaetz spent more time attacking our military leaders than he has trying to help any of the veterans here.

I know because I was the one going to their funerals, not Gaetz.

I was the one listening to mothers like Yvonne Harper, a veteran, whose daughter (also a veteran) committed suicide, and Gaetz ignored her every time she reached out for even just an acknowledgement of what happened to her family.

Now he wants to get rid of the VA, and he’s arrogant enough to think the veterans he’s ignored, berated, dismissed, insulted and threatened will vote for him.

Maybe it’s because I have family who have served and have family who died because of their service and Gaetz doesn’t, but the veterans I know want someone who will fight for them, not screen their calls.


When I’m in Congress, we’ll break ground on a full-service VA hospital right here in the district.

I’ve already started planning with local elected officials and there’s a site off I-10 near Milton that has space for a healthcare campus, which will bring high-paying medical jobs and the kinds of treatment our veterans are currently flying to Texas, California, and DC to get.

We’ll properly fund programs to reduce veteran suicide and treat those exposed to toxic substances and finally KEEP the promises we made to these men and women when they put their lives on the line for us.

And I’ll continue working closely with groups like the Monument to Women Veterans,

Defenders of Freedom, Emerald Coast Wounded Warriors, and our local Legions and VFW’s

to make sure no one who has served this country goes without food, which Gaetz voted against, healthcare, which Gaetz voted against, or mental health resources, which Gaetz voted against.

Our veterans deserve better.

If I deliver literally nothing else, bringing that VA hospital to Northwest Florida will do more good for our people than Matt Gaetz has done in his entire life.

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While the rest of America moved forward Tuesday, Florida took a giant leap back. Words cannot express how shocked and disappointed we all have been to watch the election unfold in our beautiful state.

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