The Grand Strand was packed Tuesday with politicians vying for the chair of Commander in Chief.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife Janet met with veterans and locals at the Marina Inn in Grande Dunes Tuesday afternoon. Huckabee, with his wife Janet, spoke to a crowd of about 40 people for over an hour before heading to Columbia to file for candidacy in South Carolina.
We sometimes forget how great it is to be an American citizen.
Mike Huckabee, Republican presidential candidate
Carly Fiorina, another Republican candidate and former business executive, also visited Myrtle Beach on Tuesday, stopping at the Crown Reef Resort for a chat with locals.
The “Huckabee Huddle with Veterans” centered around the presidential candidate’s platform for a stronger Veterans Affairs office and more convenient and affordable health care for past and present military personnel. Huckabee spent the first half of his speech commending veterans for their commitment to the United States.
“Whether they served in combat or not, they are willing to put themselves in between bullets and our freedom,” Huckabee said. “Veterans’ services is the most important service.”
Huckabee discussed his plan to provide better health care to veterans by improving VA hospitals and increasing Tricare insurance for former military personnel. Huckabee said, if elected, he would allow veterans to select the best medical care, regardless of distance or provider.
The closest clinic for veterans covered under Tricare is the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia. Many clinics and doctors that accept Tricare have such a low reimbursement level that Tricare is basically useless, Huckabee said.
You’ve got to listen to the candidates talk in person and not just on the debates. You have to decide what issues are important to you and your family, and research the candidate’s stances on those issues.
Darrell Eickhoff, Air Force veteran and resident
If elected, Huckabee said he’d give veterans the choice of medical care provider no matter the cost.
“The veterans of our country are, to me, the most deserving of the first fruits of the national treasury,” he said.
Darrell Eickhoff, who served in the U.S. Air Force for 28 years, spent his Tuesday morning at the Marina Inn because he wanted to hear Huckabee’s opinions in person. Eickhoff said the next president should address problems in veteran health care and discuss how to handle the increasing number of retiring military personnel.
Huckabee impressed Eickhoff with his appeal to South Carolina veterans.
“I don’t think anyone can find fault with what he said,” Eickhoff said. “I feel very positive about his stance and how he wants to fix the system.”
The United States’ promise to provide continued health care to men and women who served in the military should not go unfulfilled, Huckabee said, since veterans are required to fulfill their service commitment to the government. Providing better access to care and improving female veterans’ coverage – to include OB/GYN doctors in VA hospitals – is a priority.
“The veterans kept their promise to this country,” Huckabee said, “so this country better keep its promise to veterans.”
High school senior Hope Richardson, 17, was one of the youngest people to attend Huckabee’s appearance in Myrtle Beach. She skipped school to see political action in person, rather than just watch the debates on television.
I like hearing his opinions and I like how people could just ask him questions – it could be anything.
Hope Richardson, senior at Conway Christian High School
“I’ve always been interested in politics and I learn by experience, so it was neat to see him answer questions in person,” she said.
Listening to Huckabee answer specific and unrelated questions from the audience gave Richardson a more solid understanding of the American political system, she said, but the high schooler had another reason for coming to the huddle with her grandmother.
“It was really cool to meet him,” she said. “But skipping school was fun, too.”
Claire Byun: 626-0381, @Claire_TSN