Bob Hugin is backing up his campaign slogan – “It’s time to send in a Marine” – with appearances at veterans’ event across New Jersey.
Often accompanied by his Veterans Coordinator, Nick DeGregorio, who spent nine years in the Marines, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hugin sees veterans groups as a natural source of support as he seeks to become the first Republican to win a United States Senate seat from New Jersey in 46 years.
Today, he was at a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) barbecue in Cranford, where he met veterans and their families, sharing stories of his own service as a Marine and talking about his two sons, both currently serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.
And Hugin, a retired drug company CEO, talked about his view of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The VA doesn’t serve all of the veterans it needs to serve,” Hugin told one attendee, who complained about his struggles to get services.
Hugin said South Jersey lacks adequate facilities for veterans.
“They bus people from New Jersey to Wilmington, Delaware, to Philadelphia,” Hugin said. “They bus senior citizen veterans without lavatories for 2 ½ hours, including people with prostate disorders.
Hugin says difficulties getting appointments at Veterans Administration hospitals in East Orange and Lyons (Bernards Township) and offering the right services is a big problem.
“There’s lots of good things that are happening, but overall the fact that New Jersey is rated last, 50 of 50, for veterans who retire is because veterans’ services are not good enough in New Jersey,” said Hugin.
“You’ve got to recognize the world is changing, and you’ve got to make sure the veterans’ health care focuses on the things that the veterans really need that they can’t get elsewhere,” Hugin stated. “Otherwise the basic important services of mental health get crowded out, where other services could be handled in other hospitals and other facilities even more effectively than they are handled in the veterans’ facilities.
Hugin said he would consider serving on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee if he wins New Jersey’s Senate seat, but said he would prioritize to see how he could help New Jersey most.
“It’s not about what would be most exciting for me, but what’s best for the people of New Jersey,” he said.