Veterans

OUR VETS DESERVE BETTER

Few things are more appalling to me than the GOP breaking promises to our veterans, who in the service of their country were injured, then came home to find the care they were promised is considered secondary to “budget” issues. First it was poorly funded and understaffed VA hospitals. Then, as if that is not enough, the Trump budget, which Walden completely supports, will cut the Individual Unemployability (IU) benefit for our veterans. The IU is a VA disability compensation program that allows the VA to pay Veterans at the 100% rate, even though their disability is not considered 100%. For example, a veteran who lost a leg stepping on a land mine in Vietnam would be rated only 40% disabled. But if this person with limited mobility and a later onset of PTSD, was not able to obtain adequate employment, they would become eligible for 100% disability. Trump / Walden are cutting this program by $3.6 billion in 2018 and $40+ billion over the next ten years. These cuts will impact about 225,000 veterans currently receiving IU, including 7,000 over the age of 80.

Trump and Walden made a lot of noise about increasing the VA budget by 6%. They said nothing about cutting the IU budget to pay for it. And why did they do this? And here is where it gets uglier if that is possible. It is called the “Choice” program. The bill is HR 1797, introduced by a Republican of course, and entitled with a grandiose name “To Improve the Provision of Health Care by the Department of Veterans Affairs”. What this bill did was allow the VA to send veterans to private (for profit) medical providers instead of being treated at a VA facility. It basically is the beginning of privatizing the VA. And to pay for this, they took money away from the Veterans disability program. This was one of the 300 bills Walden crowed about passing as he said in his own words, “I’ve done some great work in the house”, and of course Trump has already signed it. A multitude of veterans’ organizations have condemned the bill. When David Shulkin, head of the VA was asked by Rep. Mark Takano, D California, “if a veteran was provided this benefit because of the inability to maintain gainful employment, particularly at a young age, he or she would not have been able to pay for Social Security or put money into a 401(k) or other retirement account. If you end IU payments for veterans like this, don’t you risk plunging them into poverty?” Shulkin’s response was “the VA is sensitive to this but needed to find savings to pay for Choice”. In other words, the veterans are screwed for the benefit of private medical providers. Folks, if this does not make you throw something, what will?

Veterans, I know many of you voted for Trump and Walden. This is just one example of their ability to talk out of both sides of the mouth at once. Please, please, please help me stop this terrible war on American veterans. As your congressman, I promise I will never support any proposal to cut veteran benefits for ANY reason. We promised you that should you be harmed during service to your country, we would in return, care for you. This promise is non-negotiable in my eyes. And by the grace of God, we will if I have the opportunity to serve you in Congress, make good on that promise.