To the editor:
President Donald Trump has kept his promise to America’s veterans. Thanks to his advocacy, we can once again have faith that our government will fulfill its promises to us.
On the campaign trail in 2016, then-candidate Trump promised that he would fix the Department of Veterans Affairs, which was then engulfed in scandal following revelations that more than 300,000 veterans had died while waiting for routine care at VA facilities.
Since taking office, the president has followed through on that crucial promise and then some, greatly improving the quality of benefits available to America’s veterans in addition to implementing much-needed reforms at the VA.
That’s pivotal for New England, which boasts a robust veteran population. Mass-achusetts, for example, has more than 300,000 veteran residents. New Hampshire is home to more than 100,000 veterans — over 10 percent of the Granite State’s total population.
Last year, President Trump secured record funding for the VA to ensure that lack of resources never prevents a veteran from receiving necessary medical care.
Rather than simply throwing more money at a broken system, however, the Trump administration has also undertaken key reforms to prevent the failures that occurred at the Department of Veterans Affairs under President Barack Obama and allow for more efficient utilization of taxpayer dollars.
The MISSION Act, for example, allows veterans to use their health-care benefits at private providers, giving them an alternative to the VA hospitals that failed them so miserably just a few short years ago.
The president also signed the VA Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, which makes it easier for veterans to challenge the VA when the agency denies their benefit claims.
More broadly, the Veteran Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act tackles the problem of bureaucratic sclerosis at the VA by eliminating barriers to removing underperforming administrators, while the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act bolsters efforts to attract and retain quality employees.
Thanks to those reforms, nearly 90 percent of veterans now express confidence in their outpatient coverage, a bump of 13 percentage points since July 2016.
While fixing the scandal-plagued VA was obviously the top priority when Trump took office, that’s far from the only way he has made life better for America’s veterans.
In 2017, for instance, the president signed the Forever GI Bill, which lets veterans use their educational benefits at any point in their lifetimes. This summer, he followed that up with an executive order forgiving the federal student loan debts accrued by disabled veterans, roughly 50,000 of whom immediately qualified for the benefit.
All the while, the strong and growing Trump economy has helped veterans provide for themselves and their families, pushing the unemployment rate among veterans to an all-time low of 3.1 percent earlier this year.
As of October, the jobless rate for veterans remained at an impressive 3.2 percent, proving that veterans are taking full advantage of the opportunities created by the president’s pro-growth policies.
President Trump promised to make sure that the federal government takes care of America’s veterans, and I can proudly report that he’s kept that promise … and then some.
State Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-District 5)