“We will not rest until all of America’s great veterans can receive the care they so richly deserve. Tremendous progress has been made in a short period of time.” – President Donald J. Trump
YEARS OF SCANDAL: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has suffered from years of scandal that have shown the need for providing our veterans with more support.
• In 2014, it was revealed that dozens of veterans died while waiting for diagnosis and treatment at the Phoenix, Arizona VA Medical Center.
• As part of the scandal, it was revealed that VA kept unofficial wait lists and manipulated wait time data throughout the VA system, at times resulting in significant delays in veterans receiving the care that they deserve.
• VA’s Inspector General has completed more than 100 criminal investigations related to wait times and is aggressively pursuing accountability for those responsible.
INITIATING CRITICAL REFORMS: President Donald J. Trump is bringing urgently needed accountability and reform to the VA.
• The Trump Administration has enforced strict accountability standards for VA personnel, with over 1163 employees fired, 387 suspended, and 61 demoted as of November 7, 2017.
o 15 senior VA officials have been disciplined for failing to provide our veterans with an adequate standard of care.
• The President’s Executive Order on Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection has initiated critical transparency reforms, including establishment of a VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.
• President Trump signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, further establishing additional safeguards to protect whistleblowers, and enabling the VA to fire failing employees.
• Secretary Shulkin has expanded access to urgent mental healthcare to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) discharges.
• The White House has opened a brand new VA Hotline staffed principally by veterans and direct family members of veterans to ensure that no complaint goes unaddressed.
MODERNIZING AND EXPANDING CHOICE: President Trump believes that our veterans deserve the best healthcare in the world, and is working to bring the Department of Veterans Affairs up to modern standards.
• President Trump and Secretary Shulkin have announced three important initiatives to expand healthcare access for our veterans through technological innovation.
o An expansion of the VA’s “Anywhere to Anywhere” healthcare, allowing VA providers to use tele-health technology to remotely treat veterans’ regardless of geographic location.
o Greater adoption of VA Video Connect, an application for mobile phones and computers allowing veterans and healthcare providers to directly connect from anywhere in the country.
o A rollout at over 100 VA sites across the nation of the new Online Scheduling Tool, which allows veterans to schedule appointments from their mobile devices or computers.
• President Trump signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, taking action to streamline the appeals process for disability compensation claims within the VA.
o More than 470,000 veterans are awaiting pending decisions regarding their appeals.
• President Trump has ensured continued access to care in the Veterans Choice Program by signing the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act, authorizing $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program (VCP).
o The VCP gives eligible veterans the choice of private care if they live more than 40 miles from the closest eligible VA facility, face wait times over 30 days from the clinically indicated date, or face an excessive burden in accessing VA care.
• President Trump announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs will adopt the same Electronic Health Record (EHR) as the Department of Defense (DOD).
o VA’s adoption of the same EHR as DOD will ultimately result in all patient data residing in one common system, enabling the immediate availability of service member's medical records and seamless care between the departments.
• The VA has launched its “Access and Quality Tool,” allowing veterans to see on-line the wait times at VA locations, as well as important quality-of-care data.
EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR VETERANS: President Trump is taking action to expand opportunities for veterans after they leave military service.
• President Trump signed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, an important step in providing our nation’s heroes with the support they’ve earned for risking their lives to ensure the freedoms of all Americans.
o The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides educational benefits to eligible veterans, service members, and their family members, including tuition, fees, books, housing, and other additional costs.
o A 15-year limit on veterans’ access to their educational benefits has been lifted, with additional veterans being added to the list of those who qualify for the program.
• Veterans have the lowest unemployment rate since 2000, at 2.7 percent. This is 1.6 percentage points lower than the 4.3 percent experienced in October 2016.
o Veterans leaving active service after September 2001 have the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for this group at 3.6 percent.
HONORING OUR HEROES: President Trump is working on behalf of a grateful nation to ensure that our veterans are properly recognized for their service and sacrifice.
• President Trump has presented the Medal of Honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan and Captain Gary M. Rose, two veterans who have demonstrated the highest levels of bravery, heroism, and sacrifice in defense of our nation.
• President Trump has signed legislation to remember and recognize America’s veterans.
o He signed S.J. Res 1 approving the location of a memorial for service during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield.
o He signed S.305, the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act.