Jim Martin visits local veterans

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Martin dropped in on a small group of local veterans today at the Columbus Public Library.

Martin, who will face incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss next month, told about 15 veterans and other supporters at the roundtable he would work to take care of returning soldiers and help secure jobs for veterans.

Martin is a Vietnam veteran who served two years in the U.S. Army.

Audience members spoke to Martin about a range of issues, from planning an exit strategy from Iraq to preparing local school systems for the Base Realignment and Closure's population impact.

James Coker, Fort Benning-based legislative coordinator for the American Federation of Government Employees Local 54, said he wanted to see the government ensure that veterans get preference for federal positions.

"We want to make sure our veterans are not pushed out of jobs," he said.

Martin said the government needs to continue offering returning soldiers the opportunity to be trained and hired for federal positions they're qualified for.

"We owe that to the veterans of our country," he said.

Carl Decker, a major at Fort Benning and radiologist at Martin Army Community Hospital, told Martin he's been seeing a growing number of returning soldiers with traumatic brain injuries.

Martin said the government needs to do a better job of monitoring troops after they return.

"We have an obligation to monitor their condition over their lifetime and (any) adverse impacts on their ability to be successful as an American citizen," Martin said.

Martin made other stops in Columbus Saturday, including at a "Latinos for Obama" rally and a reunion of airborne soldiers.