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Veterans Can be Proud of Our President

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Veterans have every reason to be proud of Donald Trump. He is ensuring that we are no longer forgotten by the bureaucrats in Washington. 

Despite the pride we take in having the best Armed Forces in the world, this country hasn’t always lived up to its obligations to our veterans. 

Under President Obama, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was engulfed in a dramatic scandal revealing gross negligence and shocking incompetency by senior administrators. Veterans who desperately needed medical care were often put on lengthy waitlists just to get basic treatment, and some even died before receiving potentially life-saving care. Warriors who were scarred from battle did not get the mental health support that they needed in order to lead normal lives, either. As a veteran myself, I was truly saddened by how poorly the VA treated my comrades in uniform.

Luckily, this abhorrent pattern of apathy ended on January 20, 2017 — the day Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president.

President Trump has implemented numerous major initiatives to fix the deficiencies at the VA and improve the welfare of our military heroes.

The Trump administration’s most important accomplishment has been ensuring that veterans actually have access to the high-quality health care they were promised. The White House has launched several programs designed to promote transparency in the VA, including the “Access and Quality Tool” which provides patients with access to information about wait times at VA facilities and other crucial medical data. 

Working with Congress, the president has given veterans the option of using VA benefits to pay for care from private medical providers if their local VA isn’t providing adequate service. That change alone is making a huge difference for veterans — for the first time, the government is allowing us to take advantage of the best quality health care available, even if that doesn’t come from a VA hospital.

But that’s not all. Last year, the president signed the largest VA budget in U.S. history, providing for a new and improved department with $86.5 billion in discretionary funding. Crucially, the budget allocated the vast majority of that amount — $73.1 billion — directly for health care services, ensuring greater access to care for about seven million patients. 

The expansion of VA health services particularly benefits the significant share of veterans who are age 65 or older, but the Trump administration has also worked to improve mental health treatment and suicide prevention efforts that primarily help younger veterans.

In 2018, the president tasked several departments with improving access to mental health resources for soldiers transitioning from active duty, ensuring that every veteran is eligible for at least one full year of treatment for any mental health condition. Previously, an estimated 60 percent of new veterans were denied benefits due to arbitrary bureaucratic guidelines that absurdly deemed their specific conditions to be unrelated to their military service.

A newly created White House VA Hotline has answered more than a quarter of a million phone calls from veterans since June of 2017, resolving an impressive 94 percent of its cases as of this May. The hotline was designed to help veterans avoid the headaches associated with navigating complex VA contact menus, and “is quickly becoming VA’s front door for questions or concerns about VA and community resources,” according to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

"My pledge to you, our noble warriors, is that my administration will support you, and your loved ones, and your amazing families every single day, now and always,” the president said in a speech last year. “We’re never going to forget. That is our sacred commitment."

Thankfully for millions of American veterans across the country, Donald Trump has kept that promise, and continues to prove that he’ll fight for our welfare as long as he remains in the White House. 

Jeff Landry is currently serving as the Attorney General of Louisiana. As Attorney General, he helped established the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation to fight crime. Mr. Landry is a veteran of Veteran of Desert Storm and left the military with the rank of Sergeant. He received the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, a National Defense Ribbon, an Overseas Training Ribbon and the Louisiana War Cross from his eleven years of service as a member of the Louisiana National Guard.

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