CLEVELAND, Ohio—Former Texas governor Rick Perry said President Obama has "corroded our military" in remarks at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday.
Perry devoted his speech at an event hosted by FRC Action and the Susan B. Anthony List to veterans’ issues, saying he trusts Republican nominee Donald Trump to put veterans first if he is elected president.
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"Today I don’t think we are where we need to be," Perry said. "We’re not where we need to be with those active-duty military men and women. The current administration has corroded our military."
"They corroded them from the standpoint of the financial side, from the leadership side, and they’ve corroded it with rules of engagement that send the message to those young men and women, ‘Listen, we may put your life in jeopardy so that we can be politically correct,’" he said. "It is time to send a powerful message and say, ‘No more.’"
Perry, who served five years as an Air Force pilot, said restoring a strong military that "projects our power" is the number one issue facing the country.
Most of Perry’s remarks focused on the crisis at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He spoke of his special relationship with Marcus Luttrell, the "Lone Survivor" Navy SEAL. Perry befriended Luttrell years ago, helping him recover from the mental and physical effects of his service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"There are thousands, tens of thousands, of young Americans who unfortunately don’t have a governor that can go to bat for them," Perry said. "Today some 20-plus a day commit suicide, partly because our federal government has failed to live up to its responsibility to these young people, and a veterans administration that has failed them."
"It is time for America to say ‘no more, we’re not going to take that’ and elect a president of the United States who will surround himself with men and women who understand," Perry said.
Perry said he is "very confident" Trump will surround himself with advisers who will tackle the failures of the VA.
"You’ve got to have a president of the United States that, every day, gets up and talks to that chief of staff and says, ‘What’s happening today to make sure that our men and women are being taken care of in the best fashion that they can be.’ Every day," Perry said. "And you put people into those places that will take care of the individuals who deserve and have earned that help. It is time to send that message across this country.
"President Obama failed, failed those veterans," Perry said. "It’s on his watch. And we’re having to clean this mess up."
"It’s time for leadership in this country that loves our veterans and shows they’re here for our veterans," Perry said.