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Veterans back Donnelly in "Veterans for Joe" launch

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A few local veterans are now fighting for Democratic incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly.

He’s in a heated race with Mike Braun for the state’s U.S. Senate seat.

“Our veterans don’t have to go to Fort Wayne to have their eyes check, podiatry, things of that nature,” said U.S. Navy veteran Gary Whitehead.

That shortlist of medical needs is now a short drive away at St. Joseph County’s VA Clinic.

The facility is also a big motivator for the veterans who spoke out in support of Sen. Donnelly on Monday.

But they explained the battle for vets rights isn’t over.

“As men and women serving in the military, we don’t think about health services, it’s not the ‘macho’ thing to do while you’re in the service,” said U.S. army veteran Kent Laudeman. “And in terms of education, we got to change that.”

A part of that education vets like Kent would like to see is on mental health.

He’s backing the incumbent Democrat in this race because of Donnelly’s continued conversations on veteran’s suicide prevention and his subsequent policies passed in the Senate that aimed to do something about it.

Veteran and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is also standing up for Donnelly in the hopes even more can be done for former military men and women in the area.

“The VA still has a lot of work to do, clearing backlogs, streamlining coverage,” said Mayor Buttigieg. “I think they’ve made some progress but there’s more to be done and it’s one of the reasons you need someone in the senate and the congress with an eye on that process.”

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