On Memorial Day, Americans think about those who have fallen while protecting their country. We also remember those veterans who were seriously wounded either visibly or invisibly. Donald Trump spent his Memorial Day being wined and dined by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. He cheated his way out of at least one tour of duty by falsely claiming he had crippling bone spurs. Now, on this day, he was outed for more of his cheating.
Trump and his Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie have been wildly distorting the facts about the changes he implemented for veterans. POTUS never mentions his three Mar-a-Lago buddies he has crowned the VA with, men with no experience. It gets worse.
Trump stole the credit for President Barack Obama’s Veterans Choice program, passed in 2014. It lets veterans see doctors outside the VA system at taxpayer expense. Wilkie took credit for improved wait times, claiming he was cleaning up the effects of “bad leadership” at the VA.
This president was so wrong when he said he was the first in 45 years to manage to get the Congress to pass Veterans Choice. The Associated Press (AP) fact-checked him:
At his Montoursville, Pennsylvania rally last week, Trump claimed:
‘We passed VA Choice and VA Accountability to give our veterans the care that they deserve and they have been trying to pass these things for 45 years.’
In his bid to tear down everything Obama, POTUS said this:
‘Obama did it in the wake of a scandal at VA’s medical center in Phoenix, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments. The program currently allows veterans to see doctors outside the VA system if they must wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles (65 kilometers) to a VA facility.’
The foundation for a successful Choice program is a new VA electronic medical records makeover. That way, the patients’ medical records will be immediately available to private physicians. Wilkie claimed that this would be a decade’s long project. Therefore, the expanded Choice program was “years” away.
Clearly, Wilkie did not know what he was talking about. Hospitals across the country have implemented health care systems beginning in the early 1980s. The VA started its original computerized systems at about the same time. Perhaps Wilkie should bring in an implementation specialist. If his program implementation takes 10 years, it would be outdated before he finished.
Trump also claimed that he could take credit for expanding program eligibility.
In a Fox News interview, VA secretary, Robert Wilkie said:
‘The first thing I did was change out the leadership at VA. … (The president) also allowed me to change out leadership in the VA centers. If someone wasn’t walking the post, getting to know the people who work for her or him, or getting to know those veterans, they had to leave. And, as a result, the Journal of the American Medical Association this year said that our waiting times are now as good or better than any in the private sector.’
In truth, a study conducted by the Medical Association showed that the wait time at the VA was better than the private sector. However, that did not relate to anything Wilkie had done. The timeframe for the study was “largely covering the Obama administration.” That was well before Wilkie came onboard in late March 2018.
Wilkie also said in a Fox News interview:
‘(The VA) had suffered from bad leadership. And that’s a bipartisan comment. And the second thing I had to do was make sure that as we approach our veteran population that we make sure that they are at the center, their needs are at the center of what we do … I think we’ve had it backwards at VA for many years. … One of the things that we’re doing at VA is that we have same-day mental health service. … It is huge.’
The AP foiled another lie. Obama started “same-day mental health services” before Trump, let alone Wilkie took office. Back in April 2016, the Obama administration publicized same-day primary and mental-health care (medically necessary) at every VA hospital.