Trump 10-point plan to reform V.A.
Donald Trump singled out mental health care for veterans as especially in need of attention, but also highlighted the multiple scandals and gaffes the department has struggled through in recent years. He called presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “the secretary of the status quo” and said he is the candidate Americans should trust to transform the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“We need to clean up the corruption in government and Hillary Clinton will never be able to do it. She’s incompetent and has proven time and time again that she doesn’t have what it takes. Doesn’t have it,” Trump said. “Crooked Hillary Clinton, sadly, is the secretary of the status quo, and wherever Hillary Clinton goes, corruption and scandal follow.”
Included in Trump’s 10-point plan for reform at the Department of Veterans Affairs is a proposal to establish a White House hotline, to be answered not by a computer but by a human being, to field complaints about the department. The hotline would ensure that every complaint is dealt with, Trump said, and any issue left unaddressed would be brought directly to the president himself, so that he could personally deal with it.
Recalling Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald’s comment comparing veterans waiting for medical care to Disney theme park visitors waiting in line for rides, Trump said he would appoint a new secretary who would make it their “personal mission to clean up the VA.”
“And this will be a person of great competence,” he said. “This will not be a political hack.”
Two other points of Trump’s plan concerned Department of Veterans Affairs personnel, specifically the ability to fire and discipline them. The candidate pledged do everything in his power to remove federal authorities or managers who “fail veterans or breach the public trust.” Similarly, Trump said he would ask Congress to pass legislation that would allow the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs to fire or discipline any employee who puts at risk the “health, safety or well-being of any veteran.”
Trump balanced those points with one in which he pledged to protect the “honest and dedicated” people in the department and put them in line for promotions. In another point, the Manhattan billionaire said he would institute a system in which a percentage of any money saved as a result of an employee suggestion would be paid out as a one-time bonus to encourage streamlining of the department’s bureaucracy.
His plan also included points that would reform the visa process to move veterans to the “front of the line,” increase the number of mental health facilities and professionals offering care to veterans and allow veterans to seek out private health care at the government’s expense if they so desire.
The real estate mogul vowed to create a commission to investigate the Department of Veterans Affairs, the findings of which he said he would present to Congress as evidence supporting his package of reforms.
In response to Trump’s speech, Clinton’s camp released a statement from Bishop Garrison, an army veteran and campaign adviser, who said the presumptive GOP nominee’s 10-point plan would put America “irreversibly on a path toward the wholesale privatization of the VA.”
“We can and must fix the VA to ensure it provides top-of-the-line 21st century care for our veterans, and Hillary Clinton has laid out a plan to do exactly that,” Garrison said in the emailed statement. “Fully privatizing the VA – the inevitable result of Trump’s proposals – is not a fix at all; it’s an ideological crusade that will only compound the problem.”