Republican Presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., talk to reporters outside the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 12,2007, after a meeting with President Bush to discuss their recent trip to Iraq. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
CONCORD, N.H. - Two top veterans joined presidential hopeful John McCain's campaign Thursday, saying the Arizona Republican is the best candidate to help former military members.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Paul Chevalier, a former state commander of the New Hampshire Veterans of Foreign Wars, will join a national panel advising McCain's campaign on veterans' issues.
Retired Airman 1st Class Griffin Dalianis, a top aide to the Disabled American Veterans, will help the Republican's campaign build a veteran outreach program. And the campaign announced a veteran chairman in each county.
"John McCain has spent his lifetime answering the call to serve, both on and off the battlefield," Dalianis said. "His record of fighting for veterans' benefits is unmatched and I am honored to work on his behalf."
At campaign events in New Hampshire, McCain often asks veterans to stand and be honored. During his last trip to the state, he had a town hall meeting in Littleton's VFW hall.
"As a fellow veteran, John McCain understands what it means to defend America and the values our nation represents," Chevalier said. "As commander in chief, I know John McCain will lead our armed forces with a strong and decisive hand."
McCain announced endorsements from more than 200 veterans from around the country Thursday. The news comes a day after he gave a major speech on Iraq that called the war "necessary and just."
McCain, whose candidacy has been hurt by his strong support for the war, also accused anti-war Democrats of putting electoral politics over sound policy.
McCain is a former Navy pilot who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was elected to the Senate in 1986 and had served in the House for four years before that. He defeated George W. Bush in the New Hampshire Republican primary in 2000, but later lost the GOP nomination.