Doreya, Luzerny County – Mehmet Oz offered his medical background and conservative values to veterans on Friday, calling for a vote in favor of him to reject the “status quo” he has blamed on many of the problems faced by veterans.
He pledged to push for increased access to mental health resources, less backlogs at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and a fight for “medical freedoms.”
“If you’re not happy with what we’re headed for, I’m the man of change,” Oz said at a roundtable event at VFW in Duryea.
It was led by State Treasurer Stacey Garrity, a Republican who served in the Army Reserve, and brought together dozens of retired military service members, along with corrections officers and VA representatives.
Oz introduced himself as the child of Turkish immigrants whose family rose successfully in the United States after his father was awarded a scholarship to attend medical school here.
“What you all fought to preserve is that American dream,” he said. “This is an American dream that I don’t feel is being passed on as effectively as it should.”
Oz has crossed the state in recent months, Go to barbershops and picnics in the city and host round tables with voters on various issues. He has highlighted those pauses on social media and in press releases to distinguish himself from Lt. John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate, who is close to three months off track since then. Stroke on May 13 The fringe of his personal campaign.
Fetterman campaign announced on Friday Who will appear Fetterman at a rally in Erie On August 12, the first public event since he won the primaries.
Much of the committee was spent discussing how vaccine mandates and the COVID shutdown will affect service members.
“During COVID we have seen science misrepresentation weaponizing science… to justify people’s belief systems,” Oz said.
Oz said he has vaccinated, promoted, and supported the vaccination of older Americans, but “vaccinating young people and children makes no sense to me.”
James May, a US Army officer and chaplain running for state representative in the Northeast, said he believed Oz’s fame, combined with his background in communications and medicine, would raise his profile as a new senator.
“As we look to how we can advance freedom and medical freedom, it’s good to know we’re putting you on our side,” May said.
Oz spent much of the hour-long event listening to veterans talk about issues such as long wait times for medical care in the VA and a lack of proactive outreach to help veterans with mental health issues. The conversation was at times very emotional, with stories of trauma, suicide, and substance abuse.
Jennifer Kania broke down in tears as she spoke about her father’s struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Vietnam. He committed suicide 20 years ago. Kania is now working on helping other VFW vets in nearby Old Forge.
“These are issues we can address,” Oz said. “That’s what makes it even more tragic, is that he risked his life to help us and we weren’t by his side when he needed us to get back. This is on us.”
Oz said telemedicine can be lifesaving for people who need mental health services, particularly in rural areas. As a heart surgeon, he said he heard from veterans about their military trauma before major surgeries.
Oz himself has military experience – he served two years in the Turkish army as a young man to maintain his dual citizenship. His service and ties to Turkey were heavily criticized in the primaries but did not come to the event, and a veteran dismissed that line of attack, saying “the military is military.”
“It doesn’t matter which branch you serve, in which country. You’re still fighting,” Mary Ann King, a retired US Army sergeant, said on Friday’s panel.
The small crowd has been very friendly towards Oz, who trails Fettermann by about 10 points in the most recent polls. He sought to win over more voters after a difficult Republican primary.
Barry Casper, a retired Air Force officer, said he’s seen more people in his hometown of Bucks come to Oz in the past few months.
“You’re getting old,” he told Oz. “People who were at first, ‘Oh I don’t know about Dr. Oz,’ see it as the real deal.”