One of the key issues Donald Trump built his presidential campaign on was providing better care to the nation’s veterans. Now, with just months before the real estate magnate becomes the leader of the free world, Trump will need to learn how he can better support those who have fought for the country their entire lives if he wants to maintain his campaign promise.
The president-elect has vowed to modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs and bring it into the 21st century with a ten point plan that will ensure veterans receive medical care and available resources whenever necessary. "No more long drives. No more waiting backlogs. No more excessive red tape," a statement on Trump’s campaign website says. "Just the care and support they earned with their service to our country."
Below is Trump’s 10 point plan to reform the Veterans Affairs department:
"1. Appoint a VA Secretary whose sole purpose will be to serve veterans. Under a Trump Administration, the needs of D.C. bureaucrats will no longer be placed above those of our veterans.
2. Use the powers of the presidency to remove and discipline the federal employees and managers who have violated the public's trust and failed to carry out the duties on behalf of our veterans.
3. Ask that Congress pass legislation that empowers the Secretary of the VA to discipline or terminate any employee who has jeopardized the health, safety or well-being of a veteran.
4. Create a commission to investigate all the fraud, cover-ups, and wrong-doing that has taken place in the VA, and present these findings to Congress to spur legislative reform.
5. Protect and promote honest employees at the VA who highlight wrongdoing, and guarantee their jobs will be protected.
6. Create a private White House hotline, which will be active 24 hours a day answered by a real person. It will be devoted to answering veteran's complaints of wrongdoing at the VA and ensure no complaints fall through the cracks.
7. Stop giving bonuses to any VA employees who are wasting money, and start rewarding employees who seek to improve the VA's service, cut waste, and save lives.
8. Reform the visa system to ensure veterans are at the front of the line for health services, not the back.
9. Increase the number of mental health care professionals, and allow veteran's to be able to seek mental health care outside of the VA.
10. Ensure every veteran has the choice to seek care at the VA or at a private service provider of their own choice. Under a Trump Administration, no veteran will die waiting for service."
Trump addressed issues veterans face when returning from war zones, including mental health concerns and PTSD, during a brief address to veterans in early October.
"When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat — and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it, and they see horror stories. They see events that you couldn’t see in a movie. Nobody would believe it," he said. "So we’re gonna have a very, very robust — very, very robust — level of performance having to do with mental health. We are losing so many great people that can be taken care of if they had proper care… the whole mental health issue is going to be a very important issue when I take over, and the VA is going to be fixed in so many ways, but that’s gonna be one of the ways we’re gonna help, and that’s in many respects going to be the No. 1 thing we have to do because I think it’s really been left behind."