Opinion: Trump fulfills promise to support veterans
As we celebrate Veterans Day, Michigan veterans finally have a commander-in-chief who is fighting for their interests — after years of neglect, our brave heroes in uniform are getting the proper care and respect that they deserve for protecting this country.
There are more than 600,000 veterans living in the Wolverine State, with more than 200,000 right here in the Detroit area. Whether they’re just leaving the service or long since retired, President Trump is making sure that this country is taking care of our needs.
When Donald Trump ran for president, he promised that his administration would not take American veterans for granted the way Obama’s administration had. “The Veteran’s Administration is a disaster, the V.A., it’s a disaster,” he said at the time, adding that his White House would “change that whole system” in order to improve the quality of health care for U.S. warriors.
“It starts with management,” he explained. “We have to have a whole different set of protocols. And we have to get people off the lines.”
He quickly began implementing that very approach after becoming president. After less than six months in office, Trump noted that his administration had already begun streamlining the process for veterans to access their medical records, and had also started publishing wait times at VA facilities so that veterans could avoid long lines for vital medical care.
Within a year, I was proud to attend the White House event at which the president achieved an even more significant victory by signing the VA MISSION Act, a new law that gave veterans the option of receiving health care from private providers. Instead of forcing veterans to wait in unacceptably long lines for government-provided healthcare, “we’re allowing our veterans to get access to the best medical care available, whether it’s at the VA or at a private provider,” he said at the signing ceremony.
A few months after that, Trump proudly signed legislation allocating $86.5 billion in discretionary funding for the VA, including a whopping $73.1 billion that went directly into funding health care for about seven million of my brother and sister patriots.
This was the most funding the VA has ever received in its history — an increase that would have been fiscally irresponsible without the sweeping reforms the Trump administration had already made to eliminate waste within the agency.
There have been many other reforms to the VA over the past three years, and while some have received more attention than others, they’ve all been crucial to the broader White House strategy of “serving those who have served.”
Just last month, for example, he signed the “Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2019,” extending several expiring initiatives, including homelessness assistance, so that those who honorably put their lives on the line to defend our nation don’t have to live on the streets when they return home.
Veterans deal with many issues on a daily basis, and one issue is that of suicide. This issue is dear to me, since two of the military brothers I served with took their own lives. Many in public office have paid lip service to this crisis over the years, but it was Trump who created the PREVENTS Initiative. This executive order marshals the resources of numerous federal agencies to mount a comprehensive suicide-prevention campaign among America’s veteran population.
At last, the era of meaningless vows and broken promises has come to an end. No matter what others say, Trump has acted, led, delivered and proven that he will continue to do whatever it takes to protect my brother and sister veterans. Have a happy Veterans Day, and please remember this a year from now!
Rocky Raczkowski is a retired Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army and a member of the Veterans for Trump coalition advisory board.