The plan to cut financial support for aging and disabled veterans included in President Donald Trump’s $1.1 trillion federal budget proposal has led to bitterness and confusion among the estimated 225,000 vets who could lose the payments.
The reductions may also trigger a political backlash against the president, who made reforming and increasing support for the Department of Veterans Affairs a major part of his campaign against Hillary Clinton.
“Make that guy in the White House keep his promise to all of us veterans, lest we all fall by the wayside and be left on the battlefield,” said a former Army staff sergeant who served in Vietnam.
“Please don’t do this to us,” said a sailor who served on ships in the Tonkin Gulf during the Vietnam War. “My wife and I already live our later years in constant uncertainty. We thought our VA benefits were fairly safe.”
“I have become aware that President Trump’s VA budget sets to screw Vietnam veterans first in line by eliminating the unemployability benefit for those of us who actually served and sacrificed who have reached the age of Social Security benefits,” said a former Navy lieutenant who flew the EP-3E version of the P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft in Vietnam.
“What can we do? Based on this, veterans would be in better shape if a Democrat had been elected,” said another vet. “I voted for Trump because of promises of helping the veterans, not taking away. I surely hope I don’t regret voting for him.”
The comments came from a flurry of emails from veterans and spouses to Military.com in response to a story last week about the proposal in the White House budget plan to cut the Individual Unemployability (IU) benefit in part to pay for an expansion of the Choice program, which allows veterans to seek health care in the private sector.
Veterans service organizations have also been flooded with calls and emails voicing concerns about the budget proposals and potential cuts to IU benefits.
Veterans eligible now for IU have a 60-100 percent disability rating but are all paid at the 100 percent rate because a service-connected disability makes them unable to work. The budget proposal would cut off IU payments once the veteran reaches the minimum age for Social Security.