VT: When we didn’t think things could get worse for veterans, we got Donald Trump with his hiring freezes and near total shutdown of VA healthcare and claim processing long before the pandemic.
The private care program he came up with sent vets to local hospitals and doctors but also failed to pay any of the bills even though the care was carefully authorized. This left veterans drowning in medical debt and forced into bankruptcy while the organization he contracted with simply stopped answering the phones.
Vets were bilked out of hundreds of millions by a company that donated big money to Donald Trump.
Today, Trump is announcing a new plan from his task force to address veterans’ mental health after he failed to address the crisis, lied about his successes, and repeatedly dismissed the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries among service members.
Trump dismissed the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries—which hundreds of thousands of American service members have suffered from.
Military Times: “Trump says he doesn’t consider brain injuries sustained by US troops during Iran missile barrage ‘serious’”
CNN: “President Donald Trump said he does not consider potential brain injuries to be as serious as physical combat wounds, downplaying the severity of US service members being treated for concussion symptoms from an Iranian attack as ‘headaches.’”
Wall Street Journal: “Traumatic brain injury has been the most common wound for troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, where insurgents turn to concealed roadside bombs to counter the military edge of U.S. and allied forces in face-to-face combat. More than 408,000 American service members have suffered traumatic brain injuries since 2000, some 80% of them concussions, according to the Pentagon’s Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.”
The suicide rate among veterans and active duty service members rose while Trump’s chaotic VA failed to implement efforts to address the crisis.
Washington Post: “Trump’s VA vowed to stop veteran suicide. Its leaders failed to spend millions set aside to reach those at risk.”
Associated Press: “THE FACTS: Trump incorrectly suggests that he helped reduce veterans’ suicide, noting that his administration was working ‘very, very hard’ on the problem and that in fact the figure had come down. But no decline has been registered during his administration.”
Wall Street Journal: “The suicide rate among active-duty troops jumped 13% in 2018, according to a Pentagon report released Thursday, signaling that serving troops aren’t immune to the growing problem of suicide in the general population and among veterans. The rate of suicides among active-duty troops was 24.8 per 100,000 in 2018, up from 21.9 in 2017, the report said.”
Wall Street Journal: “Veteran suicide rates rose 2% in 2017, according to the latest Department of Veterans Affairs numbers released last week.”
Trump has repeatedly lied about efforts to expand mental health treatment for veterans and took credit for Obama-era initiatives.
Associated Press: “In bountiful tweets and self-praise, President Donald Trump plays up ‘tremendous progress’ in improving care for veterans in his first year. His claims fall short of reality. Trump’s initiatives have yet to show meaningful impact, and his campaign promises of expanding access to doctors and adding mental health specialists are unfulfilled.”
Associated Press: “TRUMP: ‘We’ve delivered same-day mental health services at every VA medical center.’ THE FACTS: This may be the case, but it happened before Trump took office. Shulkin, an Obama administration holdover, publicized the effort as VA’s undersecretary of health in April 2016, before Trump was elected. By late 2016, the department’s blog announced that the goal of providing same-day primary and mental-health care when medically necessary would be achieved at every VA medical center by year’s end.”