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12 Medal of Honor awardees back Jeb Bush for president

The same day former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced his plans to reform the Veterans Affairs Department as part of his pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign released the names of a dozen Medal of Honor recipients who have endorsed his candidacy.

The list, published Monday, includes 10 men honored for their valor during the Vietnam War and two — retired Army Master Sgt. Leroy Petry and retired Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter — who received the Medal of Honor for their actions in Afghanistan.

Carpenter, now a contributor to Fox News, explained his decision Tuesday morning on "Fox and Friends."

"The Bush family truly cares about our military," said Carpenter, awarded the medal for covering a live grenade with his body during a 2010 battle in Helmand province. "Our military strength, our national security, best equipping our homeland security, and really thinking back to the basics of how to solve problems. And I think that really resonates with a lot of veterans."

Attempts to contact Petry and Carpenter weren't immediately successful.

Bush's veterans-care proposal offers seven steps to improve the lot of former service members, including plans to eliminate VA waste, fire underperforming VA workers, modernize VA's technology and upgrade care for female veterans.

Other planks to the platform include expanding veterans' choices in where to receive care, and maintaining end strength at current levels — a national-security strategy, according to the proposal, that has the added benefit of preventing VA rolls from swelling thanks to forced-out troops.

"Ample resources exist within the VA budget" to pay for these improvements, the proposal states.

Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The campaign of Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, here speaking on Aug. 14 at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, announced endorsements from 12 Medal of Honor recipients on Aug. 17.

Photo Credit: Charlie Neibergall/AP

The plan, along with Bush’s work on veterans’ issues in Florida, "makes him the best choice to serve as our next Ccommander in Cchief," retired Marine Maj. Gen. James Livingston said in the endorsement announcement. "We need a strong leader with executive experience who knows how to lead in a dangerous world while also maintaining the highest standard of care for our veterans back home. Jeb Bush is that leader."

Livingston earned the Medal of Honor as a captain in 1968 in Vietnam's Quang Tri province, leading his unit in a successful maneuver to thwart an enemy counterattack despite wounds so severe he was unable to walk, according to his award citation.

Bush's plan is one of few lengthy, veterans-related proposals floated by 2016 presidential candidates. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's website includes four paragraphs on the need to improve VA care, for instance, and sites belonging to other high-profile candidates — including the GOP's Donald Trump and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Democratic nomination-seekers Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — offer few, if any, hints at plans to address issues faced by former service members.

The latest CNN Republican poll puts Bush in second place with 13 percent of the GOP vote, behind Trump's 24 percent. No other GOP candidates cracked double digits.

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