Veterans’ issues were a critical part of the 2016 Presidential Campaign and the 2016 election. Much of this attention grew out of the Phoenix VA Hospital scandal and snow-balled into other issues central to America’s veterans. Many VSOs viewed the campaign and subsequent election as a significant step for veterans and the public realization that our voices represent a key voting bloc.
Suggestions have been made toward rolling the VA into the private sector. The overwhelming majority of VSOs strongly oppose this measure, to include VetLikeMe. PTSD and sexual trauma became key talking points within the campaigns, in addition to lesser issues (disability compensation, the GI bill).
To leverage our voices in the political spectrum, veterans can weigh what the candidates promised veterans with subsequent activities of the incoming administration. How will those activities effect us? This article from the Associated Press was published on October 18, 2016.
WHY IT MATTERS: Veterans
By MATTHEW DALY
WASHINGTON (AP) — THE ISSUE: There are an estimated 21.6 million veterans in the United States. Among them, nearly 9 million are enrolled in health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. About 4.3 million veterans get disability compensation from the VA and nearly 900,000 have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
A 2014 law signed by President Barack Obama aimed to alleviate delays many veterans faced in getting treatment at VA hospitals and clinics and end the widespread practice of fake wait lists that covered up long waits for veterans seeking health care. Two years later, many of the problems remain.
WHERE THEY STAND
Hillary Clinton has pledged to ensure veterans have access to timely and high-quality health care and vows to block efforts to privatize the Veterans Health Administration, the VA’s health-care arm. Clinton also wants to bolster veterans’ benefits, including education and housing aid included in the GI bill. She would ensure that military sexual trauma is acknowledged as a disability under VA rules.
Donald Trump says he will expand programs that allow veterans to choose their doctor — regardless of whether they’re affiliated with the VA — and still receive government-paid medical care. Trump says that’s not privatized care but, he told The Associated Press, “a way of not allowing people to die waiting for doctors.”
Trump also pledged to fire or discipline VA employees who fail veterans or breach the public trust. He also would increase mental health professionals and create a “White House hotline” dedicated to veterans. If a valid complaint is not addressed, “I will pick up the phone and fix it myself if I have to,” Trump said.