Topics in the News: Veterans

Bernie Sanders on Homeland Security : May 25, 2014
V.A. doesn't have resources to accommodate 2 million vets

Q: All of a sudden we're learning of these wait times, of veterans who are dying while waiting.

SANDERS: Clearly, there are incompetent administrators. But I think one point that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. If you speak to veterans organizations, they will tell you that, by and large, the quality of care that veterans receive in VA hospitals around this country is good to excellent.

Q: Sure, but, if you can't get in, it doesn't do any good that it's great care.

SANDERS: That is quite right. The VA has established a self-imposed goal of getting people into the system in 14 days. That's pretty ambitious. That's more ambitious in general than the private sector. And I think there are places around the country where they simply do not have the resources to accommodate the fact that two million more people have come into the system in recent years. And I think some people may be cooking the books to make it look like they're accommodating people in 14 days.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Marco Rubio on Education : Feb 12, 2013
Give info to students on costs & benefits of student loans

Because tuition costs have grown so fast, we need to change the way we pay for higher education. I believe in federal financial aid. I couldn't have gone to college without it. But it's not just about spending more money on these programs; it's also about strengthening and modernizing them.

A 21st century workforce should not be forced to accept 20th century education solutions. Today's students aren't only 18 year olds. They're returning veterans. They're single parents who decide to get the education they need to earn a decent wage. We need student aid that does not discriminate against programs that non-traditional students rely on--like online courses, or degree programs that give you credit for work experience.

When I finished school, I owed over $100,000 in student loans, a debt I paid off just a few months ago. Today, many graduates face massive student debt. We must give students more information on the costs and benefits of the student loans they're taking out.

Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: GOP Response to 2013 State of the Union Address

Barack Obama on Budget & Economy : Oct 22, 2012
After 10 years of war, it's time for nation-building at home

After a decade of war, it's time to do some nation-building here at home. And what we can now do is free up some resources to, for example, put Americans back to work, especially our veterans, rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our schools, making sure that, you know, our veterans are getting the care that they need when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, making sure that the certifications that they need for good jobs of the future are in place.

The first lady has done great work with an organization called Joining Forces putting our veterans back to work. And as a consequence, veterans' unemployment is actually now lower than general population, it was higher when I came into office. So those are the kinds of thtwings that we can now do because we're making that transition in Afghanistan.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate

Barack Obama on Tax Reform : Oct 16, 2012
It's unfair for a nurse to pay a higher tax rate than Romney

Romney was asked: Is it fair for somebody like you, making $20 million a year, to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or a bus driver, making $50,000 year? He said, "Yes, I think that's fair." Not only that, "I think that's what grows the economy." I think what grows the economy is when you get that tax credit that we put in place for your kids going to college. I think what grows the economy is when we make sure small businesses are getting a tax credit for hiring veterans who fought for our country.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Second Obama-Romney 2012 debate

Joe Biden on Corporations : Oct 11, 2012
Same rules for Wall Street as for Main Street

BIDEN: Governor Romney said 47% of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. These people are my mom and dad, the people I grew up with, my neighbors. They are elderly people who in fact are living off of Social Security. They are veterans and people fighting in Afghanistan right now who are "not paying any taxes." I've had it up to here with this notion that 47%--it's about time they take some responsibility here. And instead of signing pledges to Grover Norquist not to ask the wealthiest among us to contribute to bring back the middle class, they should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class, we're going to level the playing field. We're going to give you a fair shot again. We are going to not repeat the mistakes we made in the past by having a different set of rules for Wall Street and Main Street, making sure that we continue to hemorrhage these tax cuts for the superwealthy.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate

Joe Biden on Homeland Security : Oct 11, 2012
Caring for veterans is our only sacred obligation

BIDEN: We only have one truly sacred obligation as a government. That's to equip those we send into harm's way and care for those who come home. That's the only sacred obligation we have. Everything else falls behind that. [Veterans] should be honored; not be thrown into a category of the 47% who don't pay their taxes.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate

Paul Ryan on Homeland Security : Aug 11, 2012
More funding for veterans

I will continue to advocate on behalf of our veterans, which I believe is one of the most important responsibilities of the federal government. With increased funding for mental health facilities and increased health care access for veterans living in rural areas, I am pleased the House was able to make significant progress in securing veterans' health benefits. Much work remains, and I remain committed to our veterans.
Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source: 2012 House campaign website,, "Issues"

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Jun 14, 2012
Skeptical on whether China feels bound by global trade rules

Obama was skeptical about the degree to which China felt bound by the rules of the global trading system in general and the rules of the World Trade Organization in particular. Obama made it plain to veterans of the Clinton administration that he felt they had allowed China to enter into the World Trade Organization under terms that weren't tight enough-- thus allowing China to become a trading giant and leaving Obama with too little leverage when China flouted the trading rules.

There was also a certain Asian quality to the president's negotiations with China. "They push and push and push until you say no," Obama told those around him. "And then they stop pushing."

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p.179-180

Ben Carson on Civil Rights : Jan 24, 2012
Free speech is wonderful, but hate speech causes actual harm

Of all the wonderful freedoms that characterize life here in America, freedom of speech is one of the most important. This was most dramatically demonstrated in a recent Supreme Court decision, which upheld the rights of members of the Westboro Baptists Church to display extremely offensive signs and shout obscenities during funeral services for veterans. They are an intolerant hate group that despises homosexuality and are angry with the military because gays are allowed to serve. There is almost no one who agrees with the Westboro Church, but because of the Supreme Court's decision to strictly interpret the Constitution, the rights of the church members could not be denied.

I actually have some doubts about that legal decision, because the signs, obscenity, and noise infringe upon the rights of other Americans to assemble peacefully for the burial of one of their loved ones. If my right to free speech causes you actual harm, it becomes time to curtail my speech.

Click for Ben Carson on other issues.   Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p.186

Newt Gingrich on Jobs : Jan 19, 2012
Create transitional program for returning vets, like in WWII

PAUL: After WW II, we had 10 million came home. What did we do then? They cut the budget by 60%. They cut taxes by 30%. Everybody went back to work again and you didn't need any special programs.

GINGRICH: The US government did 2 dramatic things after World War II. They created a GI Bill which enabled literally millions of returning veterans to go to college. My father, who was in WWII, went to college on a GI Bill. So there was an enormous expansion of opportunity that enabled them to integrate into a new, emerging society. The second thing they did is, they dramatically cut taxes, and the economy took off and grew dramatically, and it absorbed the workforce. So I would say we ought to both have a transition process for veterans to enable them to have a real advantage in getting a job when they come home, and we ought to have a very aggressive economic program of regulatory cuts and tax cuts, so that virtually every veteran would have a very good job at the end of the transition period.

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: South Carolina 2012 GOP debate hosted by CNN's John King

Mitt Romney on Principles & Values : Jan 17, 2012
1994: donated milk for years to Shelter for Homeless Vets

In 1994, Romney courted voters at the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans. After giving his pitch, Romney asked the center's director, Ken Smith, what his biggest problem was. Smith said that the high price of milk was killing their budget. And they went through a lot of milk, some 1,000 pints a day. Romney attempted a joke: why don't you just teach the veteran's how to milk cows? Then he was out the door. Smith was stunned.

But several days later, Smith got a phone call from Romney, who told Smith he wanted to cover part of the shelter's milk costs, and he didn't want any publicity for it. Smith didn't know exactly how Romney had done it--he figured Romney had arranged something with one of the shelter's milk suppliers. But now, instead of paying for 1,000 pints a day, the shelter was paying for just 500. And it wasn't just some political stratagem. "It happened for a long period of time." Smith said he understood that Romney was still supporting the shelter when Smith left in 1996.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: The Real Romney, by Kranish & Helman, p.189-190

Rick Perry on Budget & Economy : Sep 12, 2011
People are tired of spending on programs we don't want

Q: The president in his new plan has a lot of tax cuts, payroll tax cuts, middle-class tax cuts, tax credits for hiring veterans, tax credits for hiring long-term unemployed people. Are those things you would support?

PERRY: And he's going to pay for them all with raising your taxes. That is the issue. He had $800 billion worth of stimulus in the first round of stimulus. It created zero jobs, $400-plus billion dollars in this package. And I can do the math on that one. Half of zero jobs is going to be zero jobs.

Q: So whenever the president supports tax cuts, that has to be balanced with spending cuts?

PERRY: I would suggest to you that people are tired of spending money we don't have on programs we don't want.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP Tea Party debate in Tampa FL

Rick Perry on Corporations : Sep 12, 2011
Free up small businessmen and -women to risk capital

Q: The president in his new plan has a lot of tax cuts, tax credits for hiring veterans & long-term unemployed people. Are those things you would support?

PERRY: And he's going to pay for them all with raising your taxes. That is the issue. He had $800 billion worth of stimulus in the first round of stimulus. It created zero jobs. This president does not understand how to free up the small businessmen and women or, for that matter, Wall Street. You give people the opportunity to risk their capital by lowering the tax burden on them, by lowering the regulatory climate, and you will see an American economy that takes off like a rocket ship. And that's what we need to be focusing on in this country, freeing up the small businessmen and women to do what they know how to do, which is risk their capital and give them half a chance to have an opportunity to have a return on that investment, and they will go risk their capital. Quit the spending. Give clear regulatory relief and reform the tax code.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP Tea Party debate in Tampa FL

Barack Obama on Corporations : Sep 8, 2011
$4,000 tax credit for companies who hire unemployed workers

The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working. It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed. It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business. It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan right away.

Pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or raise workers' wages. Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job. We have to do more to help the long-term unemployed in their search for work.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Pres. Obama's 2011 Jobs Speech

Rahm Emanuel on Health Care : Jan 5, 2009
Universal healthcare is not out of reach

As we put America on the road to achieving healthcare savings, the goal of universal health care will no longer seem out of reach. But to get there, we have to learn from history Four presidents have sought universal health care; four presidents have come up short. Yet, although our country remains a long way from universal coverage, it HAS done a great job on universalizing health care for seniors, veterans, and low-income families--segments of the population that wouldn't otherwise have it. To build on these successes, we propose three national goals that would make a significant down payment on the ultimate objective of ensuring affordable, meaningful, accountable health care for every American: covering all children; preparing the Medicare program for its demographic date with the Baby Boomers; and making employees' health care coverage affordable for our nation's small businesses.
Click for Rahm Emanuel on other issues.   Source: The Plan, by Rahm Emanuel, p.103-104

Barack Obama on Budget & Economy : Sep 26, 2008
Spending freeze is like a hatchet where you need a scalpel

Q: In the middle of a huge financial crisis that is yet to be resolved, how this is going to affect you not in small ways, but in major ways, and the approach you would take to the presidency.

McCAIN: How about a spending freeze on everything but Defense, Veterans Affairs and entitlement programs? We ought to seriously consider, with the exceptions of caring for our veterans, national defense and several other vital issues.

OBAMA: The problem with a spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel. There are some programs that are very important that are currently underfunded. I want to increase early childhood education. We’re currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus. It seems to me that if we’re going to be strong at home as well as strong abroad, that we’ve got to look at bringing that war to a close.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2008 first presidential debate, Obama vs. McCain

Barack Obama on Principles & Values : Aug 27, 2008
We’re more decent & compassionate than last 8 years

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this. This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work. Thi country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he’s worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China. We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slid into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes. To the American people across this great land: Enough! This moment, this election--is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. The same party that brought you two terms of Bush and Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention

Jesse Ventura on Civil Rights : Apr 1, 2008
Don't amend Constitution to outlaw flag-burning

Sometimes, of course, speaking my mind proved a bit controversial. I told the veterans gathered at an American Legion post that I opposed any constitutional amendment to outlaw flag-burning. The point was that we have the freedom to do something like that in America, and the flag is only a symbol. Besides, I told them, flag-burners usually get the crap kicked out of them by construction workers, anyhow.
Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 43

Jesse Ventura on War & Peace : Apr 1, 2008
Bush violated Constitution by misleading US into Iraq War

George Bush violated the Constitution by going to war under false premises. He and others in his administration did everything they could to ensure that the American people were misled. What are the Democrats going to do now, nothing? For fear of being unpatriotic?

By the time he leaves office, Bush will have spent more than a trillion dollars on his military adventures. While more than 20 retired American generals have come out strongly opposed to what we're doing in Iraq, our veterans are receiving shameful treatment. In the course of this war, more than 20,000 soldiers have been discharged with so-called "personality disorder," meaning that they're often being denied disability and medical benefits.

Now, I ask you: Who are the real dysfunctional personalities here? Maybe a president who thinks he's getting messages straight from God? Or a vice president so delusional he believes we can "bunker-bust" Iran's supposed nuclear sites without opening up a whole new front in this madness?

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.274

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Feb 21, 2008
Unacceptable to have veterans drive 250 miles to a hospital

The incredible burden that has been placed on the American people, starting with military families, and the fact that we still are not doing right by our veterans, that we still don’t honor their service, that there are still homeless veterans, that we still don’t screen properly for post-traumatic stress disorder and make sure that they’re getting mental services that they need, that we are still having veterans in south Texas have to drive 250 miles to access a veterans hospital. That’s unacceptable.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Feb 2, 2008
Improve veterans’ mental health treatment & PTSD benefits

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 56-57

Mike Huckabee on War & Peace : Jan 28, 2008
We are making progress in Iraq, Afghanistan, & war on terror

Difficult as it has been, we are making progress in Iraq and Afghanistan. All Americans should take pride in the accomplishments of our warriors, under the superb leadership of General Petraeus. We need--and must provide for--the strongest and most effective military in the world, to protect ourselves and our key allies. In addition, here on the homefront, we must continue our vigilance in the war on terror--and insist on the best possible care for veterans, their spouses and their dependents.
Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address

Hillary Clinton on Homeland Security : Jan 15, 2008
Passed legislation to treat veterans’ traumatic brain injury

We have to do everything necessary to help returning veterans get the health care and the support that they need. This new signature wound called traumatic brain injury is something that I am really upset about, because we’ve only begun to recognize it and diagnose it. I was able to pass legislation to begin to provide the physical and mental evaluations so we could treat this. They’re now getting these exams because we’ve got to track what happens to the veterans and provide the services for them.
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas

Mike Huckabee on Homeland Security : Sep 27, 2007
Raise enlistment rates with Veterans’ Bill of Rights

Q: Regarding declining minority enlistment, what do you say to minorities who are overwhelmingly opposed to the continuation of this war?

A: One of the tragedies is that our military veterans have kept their promises to us; we have not kept all of our promises to them. Many of them have come back to be told to wait in line for their health care, to be told that mental health would be something that might be rationed out. That’s not acceptable. And, if I were president, I’d like to see us have a very plainly written, simple-to-understand veterans’ bill of rights that would make sure that every single thing that these veterans have been promised is delivered. And it’s delivered as the first fruits of the federal Treasury before anyone else gets their nose in the trough, the veterans get their benefits paid--not on the basis of a limited budget, but on the basis of making sure that we keep promises to the people who have kept us free. That, I believe, will help people want to be a part of the military

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University

Hillary Clinton on Health Care : Sep 13, 2007
A plan is necessary; but consensus is more necessary

Q: You have been involved with health care for a long time. Because of your long involvement, you should have been first out of the gate on health care.

A: Well, I’ve been at the gate and out of it for 14 years, and you know when we weren’t successful with the overall reform, I moved ahead and was one of the people responsible for the children’s health-insurance program and trying to make sure drugs were safe for kids, and dealing with aftereffects the Gulf War veterans suffered. So, I’ve stayed consistently focused on health care and am engaged right now in this battle with the president over his threatened veto of the children’s health-insurance program. But I learned, among other things, that we’ve got to build a consensus. A plan is necessary but not sufficient. We’ve got to have a political consensus in order to withstand the enormous opposition from those interests that will have something to lose in a really reformed health-care system.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Aug 26, 2007
Support veterans via the Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act

Following reports of neglect at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Obama introduced the Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act. The bill improves the condition of troop housing, streamlines the process for seeking care, provides greater information to recovering servicemembers, requires the hiring of more caseworkers, and provides more support to family members who care for injured troops:
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2008 Presidential campaign website, “Flyers”

Joe Biden on Homeland Security : Aug 9, 2007
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is antiquated & unworkable

Q: Would you support a repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which would allow gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers the right to serve openly in the military?

A: Sen. Biden supports ending the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. It is antiquated and unworkable. According to recent polls, 3/4 of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan said that they had no problem serving with openly gay people. 24 of the nations serving alongside US forces in Iraq permit open service which has had no negative impact on these forces or the morale of our brave soldiers. Finally, the US does not have enough troops to fulfill our current missions--it is ridiculous to turn away brave and patriotic Americans who volunteer to serve solely because of their sexual orientation--especially in light of the Defense Department’s recent decision to extend tours of duty in Iraq. Sen. Biden believes that we should treat everyone serving in the military by the same standards regardless of orientation.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate--written questionnaire

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Jun 3, 2007
Address the deficiencies in the VA system

We don’t have a full-service VA system, so a lot of troops that have been injured are having to travel elsewhere, and that’s something that we have to address. There are important efficiencies that we can obtain by having a VA hospital system; for example, prescription drugs. But we have to have a VA that serves everybody. In some rural communities that the veterans don’t have access to the services needed, we’ve got to make sure that they do have the option for a private hospital that is close by
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Jun 3, 2007
Make sure the outpatient facilities work for veterans

I visited Walter Reed repeatedly. Typically what would happen is we would go to visit troops in the medical facility, and people will acknowledge that the medical facility at Walter Reed does great work. Unfortunately, it turned out that the outpatient facilities were disastrous. That’s why we now have legislation to make sure not only that we’re just painting over some of the mold in there, but also making it easier for families & veterans to negotiate the system once they’re outpatients.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Jun 3, 2007
Spending on the Cold War relics should be for the veterans

Keep in mind that there is a difference between the Pentagon budget and the size of the military. So it may be that, for example, there are weapon systems that are outmoded relics of the Cold War; but what I want to make certain of is, is that our troops are not going on these repeated tours, lengthy tours, that we are providing them with all the support they need when they’re on the ground. And we can’t do that currently. When they come home we are treating them with the dignity and honor that they deserve. Whether you were for the war or against the war, we can all agree to, and the Bush administration has not done that because they tried to do it on the cheap. Folks who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, folks who have disability payments that are due are not getting the kinds of services they deserve. I have some specific plans to address that.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Mar 27, 2007
America must practice the patriotism it preaches

I think it is unconscionable for us to stand by our troops and hoist the flag and suggest how patriotic we are at the same time as the veterans’ budget is being effectively cut.

I’m going to monitor very closely how we are treating 100,000+ veterans wh are coming home, to make sure the VA has the capacity to provide transition services for veterans who are leaving the service and reentering civilian life--particularly the National Guardsman and Reservists who did not expect to be fighting in Iraq.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p.155

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Mar 14, 2007
Comprehensive plan for our veterans healthcare

Washington says that they support the troops. They give long speeches about valor and sacrifice. But when it comes time to sending our troops into battle with the proper equipment and ensure that veterans have what they need when they get home, they don’t do anything except slap a yellow ribbon on the back of their SUV. That’s how come our men and women have to use scrap metal to protect their Humvees.

Our veterans end up living among mice and mold. They stare at stacks of paperwork. They thought they left the frontline in Iraq but they came home to a new frontline of red tape and bureaucracy.

This is unacceptable. When our veterans come home, I don’t want them crawling around a dumpster for a meal or a box for shelter. I don’t want them drowning in whiskey to silence the PTSD. I don’t want that for our veterans. We know they deserve more.

So let’s make a promise today--and say that, right here and right now, is when we begin to put together a comprehensive plan for our veterans.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC

Hillary Clinton on Social Security : Sep 25, 1996
Respect unique power of government to meet social needs

Competing visions of the role of government and the rights of individuals exist all along the political spectrum. Most of us hold a point of view that exists somewhere between the extremes. We may grumble about taxes, but we generally support programs like veterans’ benefits, Social Security, and Medicare, along with public education, environmental protection, and some sort of social safety net for the poor. We are wary of government interference with private initiative or personal belief and the excessive influence of special interests on the political system. We respect the unique power of government to meet certain social needs and acknowledge the need to limit its powers.

In times of profound social change like the present, extreme views hold out the appeal of simplicity. By ignoring the complexity of the forces that shape our personal and collective circumstances, they offer us scapegoats. Yet they fail to provide a viable pathway from the cold war to the global village.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: It Takes A Village, by Hillary Clinton, p.286

  • Additional quotations related to Veterans issues can be found under Homeland Security.
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