Will veterans be discussed in Tuesday night’s presidential debate? During the first debate Oct. 3, focusing on domestic policy, Big Bird got a mention, but veterans were left out altogether, as the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America noted.


“If care and support for the 20 million veterans in America is not a domestic policy issue, what is?” Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of the organization, wrote in a blog posting on the IAVA Web site.

“With the first debate question focusing on job creation, from the gate both candidates missed an opportunity to show veterans that they would fight the battle against consistently high unemployment,” Rieckhoff added.

IAVA has posted a 2012 veterans voting guide, listing its five top issues: lowering the veteran unemployment rate, protecting the new GI Bill education benefits, ending the epidemic of veteran suicide, transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs and supporting female veterans.

Veterans did get passing mention in Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate. Vice President Biden noted that veterans are among the 47 percent of Americans whom Republican nominee Mitt Romney said are not paying taxes. Republican candidate Paul Ryan said the country owes veterans “a great debt of gratitude” for their service.

“Before every election, political candidates trot out the same old speeches thanking veterans for their service,” the introduction to the IAVA election guide reads. “They throw in a feel-good line for roaring applause. Yet very few of those candidates have a clear plan to fight for this generation of veterans. In this election, we’re calling on you to be an educated and informed voter.”