WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Home to more than 700,000 veterans, few issues take center stage in North Carolina quite like the military.

In the high-stakes U.S. Senate race, both Republican incumbent Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham have groups of supporters focused on military and veterans issues.

With the coronavirus upending campaign season, both candidates are still hitting the trail virtually, talking to supporters about veterans issues.

In a recent Zoom call with the “Veterans for Tillis” group, Tillis touted his experience in Washington, pointing to legislation passed by Congress during his tenure like the Mission Act, which expanded private healthcare options for veterans.

“When we came in in 2015, the [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] was virtually at a low point. I think they had … kind of gone rudderless. They weren’t focusing on the most important things,” Tillis told the group. “It took us a few years to get things moving. I do believe with President Trump he made it a priority.”

At the same time, Tillis argued there is more work to be done, including making it easier for service members to transition to civilian life and helping Gold Star families.

“The last thing you should be doing when you’ve got a newborn child and you’ve lost your husband is worrying about paperwork, taxes,” he said.

On Capitol Hill, Tillis is a member of both the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee as well as the Senate Armed Services Committee. He chairs a subcommittee that focuses on issues pertaining to military personnel, military healthcare, and more.

Meanwhile, Tillis's challenger Cal Cunningham recently told supporters that if elected, he intends to serve on both of those Senate panels. He made the comments on a call with his “Veterans & Military Families for Cal” group.

Cunningham is an Army veteran, having done tours in the Middle East.

“It’s been a while since North Carolina has had a veteran in either this U.S. Senate seat or in the other U.S. Senate seat,” Cunningham said. “It should be part of who we are. It is part of the DNA of our state.”

Cunningham told the group there are many areas for improvement when it comes to veterans and military issues. Among other things, he pointed to reducing homelessness among veterans and making sure the VA is prepared to handle the increased number of female vets.

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He also argued Congress should retake the reins on authorizing the use of military force, saying they have abdicated that role.

“It will always be personal. And I will never ever be able to think about it without also thinking about the families,” he said, of the decision to send troops into conflict.

Election day is now just under five months away.