Veterans groups are blasting the Trump administration for proposing to cut veterans benefits and use the savings to pay for privatizing more veterans' care.
Trump recently signed into law a bill that extends the VA’s controversial choice program that sends veterans to for-profit private hospitals instead of their local VA. Under the new proposal, veterans who cannot work because of their disabilities could see their benefits slashed by nearly two-thirds.
"The administration's budget for the VA would effectively lower the earnings of our most vulnerable veterans by reducing or eliminating disability payments from veterans who are the most in need," American Legion National Commander Charles Schmidt said in a statement. "This is absolutely unacceptable to us."
American Legion and other veterans groups are against expanding the choice privatization program at the expense of VA patients, but this is exactly what the Trump administration is doing.
“It is a ‘stealth’ privatization attempt, which the American Legion fully opposes,” American Legion National Commander Charles Schmidt said in a statement. “Choice should not be advanced to the detriment of cost-of-living increases for veterans.”
AFGE has been saying all along that the choice program would take vital resources from veterans who want to get their care at the VA. Further expansion of the program could lead to wholesale privatization of the largest and most important medical system in our country.
“What the administration is doing is taking away veterans’ disability payments that they’ve earned to line the pockets of wealthy private hospital CEOs,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “They are also pushing privatization onto veterans, something they’ve promised not to do. This is outrageous.”
'I will be destroyed'
“If they cut VA at all, my family and I will be destroyed,” said an Army veteran and an AFGE member who had to retire because of his Crohn’s disease after 30 years in public service.
“I would try to get another job, but with Crohn’s disease, it’s really hard to carry a toilet around with you,” he added. “I pray and wish every day I was healthy because I am not a deadbeat.”
The Army veteran questioned why federal employees and veterans are being attacked even though they “have served the country with honor, courage, sacrifice – things that a lot of them have never done.”
Cox said all veterans deserve world-class health care and medical treatments for their sacrifice, and the VA is the only system in the world that can offer all of that and more to our veterans. It is not just another hospital system, but a community of veterans that brings together generations of servicemen and women from all wars, with all injuries, and all walks of life. Veterans do not want to see it go away.
Privatization will leave veterans in the cold. And now we’re starting to see its disastrous effects.
“AFGE will continue to stand with veterans’ service organizations like the American Legion and their members from greedy privatizers looking to profit off of their war wounds,” Cox added.
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