Candidates Mark Veterans Day

Republican presidential hopeful, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, shakes hands during a tour of Gentex, a maker of military communication products in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Nov. 12, 2007. AP

The United States should link veterans' education benefits to inflation, speed laboratory developments to the battlefield and guarantee soldiers' children will always receive inexpensive in-state tuition rates, Republican Mitt Romney said Monday in commemorating Veterans Day.

Republican rival John McCain, a prisoner of war during Vietnam, walked a parade route in South Carolina and said he could look vets in the eye and say, "I will never let you down."

Romney, visiting a company that makes microphones for fighter pilot helmets, said changes are needed to honor the military men and women who served their country.

He has pledged to add 100,000 active-duty troops if elected president, as well as to increase spending on military gear.

He told the workers at Gentex Electro-Acoustics that updating the G.I. bill to better keep pace with inflation is needed, as are the tuition and equipment changes.

"We've got to say that the children, the college students, of our armed services personnel should always know that they're going to receive the special, lowest rate available in every state where their parents might serve so they're able to enjoy education without having to pay an excessively high cost," Romney said in this early voting state.

The innovation force, modeled after a new rapid-equipping force, "can cut down the barriers and the long process it takes to get products from, if you will, the innovation room to the place where they can be most well-used, he said.

In Beaufort, S.C., meanwhile, Arizona Sen. McCain said the U.S. is winning the war in Iraq and "our best days are ahead of us."

He urged his audience, about 200 people packed into a restaurant just off a Veterans Day parade route, to continue supporting war efforts.

McCain walked most of the nearly two-mile parade in front of a Jeep that carried his 95-year-old mother. He zigged and zagged along the parade route, shaking hands with people along the street in this coastal community.

"I think the people expect that," McCain said. Besides, he said it's good exercise.

In Plymouth, N.H., Democrat John Edwards proposed a $400 million plan to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, including those recently returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under Edwards' plan, veterans could seek counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder outside the Veterans Health Administration system, the number of counselors would increase and family members would be employed to identify cases of PTSD.

"When they come home, they're basically left on their own. They didn't leave us on our own, and we should not be leaving them on their own," said Edwards, a former Democratic senator from North Carolina.

The Edwards campaign said the government could pay for the program through closing tax loopholes and more efficient tax collection.
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