Renzi Touts Support Of Veterans

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Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) touted his accomplishments to an audience of veterans Friday evening at the Best Western Inn of Payson.

"We've been able to accomplish quite a bit for our veterans," the first term congressman said. "We've been able to pass two bills that we authored along with Congressman (Chris) Smith (R-NJ)."

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Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) talks to an audience of veterans Friday evening at the Best Western Inn of Payson. While protesters outside disagreed, Renzi claimed to have accomplished "quite a bit for our veterans" as the only congressman in the state on the Veterans Affairs Committee.

One bill provides veterans who start their own businesses with preferential treatment in obtaining government contracts. The other doubles the death benefit for military personnel killed in action to $12,000, and makes that money non-taxable.

Renzi also called on veterans in the audience to help his office identify soldiers returning from Iraq who might be suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

"I want to ask you to be citizen-soldiers again by identifying, watching and being observant when these young men and women come home, so we can identify and treat those individuals," Renzi said. "We're going to need your experience in the community to help identify who may be suffering and who may need to get into the system."

Renzi, a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, brought Smith, the chair of that committee, with him to Payson.

A small group of protesters picketed outside the hotel conference room where the rally was held, bearing signs that read, "Shame Renzi" and "Our Veterans Need Better."

Mark Reza, Gila County Democratic chairperson, said the "informational" protest was intended to set Renzi's record straight.

"He wants to portray himself as a friend of the veterans, but he voted against veterans' health care and he voted against providing greater support to our reservists that are now being extended in Iraq," Reza said.

A flier passed out by the protesters claimed that Renzi also refused to sign a petition that would have forced a vote on a bill to end the disabled veterans tax.

Renzi told the audience that the protesters outside didn't understand his accomplishments on behalf of veterans.

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