By Mike Verardo
President Trump is making sure our veterans who fought for America overseas don’t have to keep fighting for the benefits they’ve earned after they return home.
As a wounded veteran and advocate for veteran issues, I’ve experienced firsthand how returning home often proves difficult after going to war. However, I’ve also seen the positive impact the Trump administration’s reforms are having on Tar Heel veterans and am proud to join veterans across the country in support of President Trump for his reelection in 2020.
After returning from combat, many veterans face the daunting task of reacclimating to civilian life while overcoming physical and psychological wounds. It’s not easy, but President Trump has removed some of our biggest obstacles and given us the support we need to succeed.
Ensuring access to quality healthcare is central to that objective.
Veterans often have to deal with Department of Veteran Affairs bureaucrats who are more interested in following byzantine procedures than providing life-saving care. The unconscionable apathy of past VA administrators who allowed veterans to die while waiting to receive care was just the most prominent example.
Since I came home, I’ve undergone more than 100 surgeries for injuries I sustained on the battlefield. Navigating the VA bureaucracy to get the healthcare this country promised me was among the most grueling aspects of the recovery process. All too often, veterans give up in frustration.
The Trump administration has made key reforms to address these problems, ensuring that vets get the care we need and don’t forfeit our rights out of exasperation.
The VA Appeals and Modernization Act, for instance, makes it easier for veterans to challenge bureaucratic decisions to deny coverage. Most vets know how arcane and complicated the appeals process used to be. With a few significant procedural changes, President Trump turned the VA from an adversary to an advocate. As a result, the VA dramatically increased the number of appeals processed in 2018, surpassing its own ambitious goal two weeks ahead of schedule.
In addition, the White House created new telehealth options for veterans, giving us the ability to obtain certain types of care without having to show up at a VA facility in person, and established an online “Access and Quality Tool” that lets us view data on wait times and quality of care at our local VA.
The MISSION Act, signed into law by President Trump last year, builds on those initiatives by allowing veterans to use our healthcare benefits at private providers if the VA is unable to meet our needs. VA hospitals no longer have a monopoly on our healthcare, meaning we no longer have to worry about dying from treatable conditions while languishing on interminable waiting lists. Meanwhile, the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act is making it easier to identify and remove underperforming VA officials, resulting in disciplinary action against more than 4,300 employees within the first two years.
With the glaring problems at the VA finally under control, President Trump was able to secure record funding for the Department of Veteran Affairs last year. Thanks to significant boosts in healthcare funding, infrastructure modernization and counseling services, veterans have more access to better services than ever before.
President Trump has always been a staunch advocate for veterans, and he’s demonstrated that repeatedly throughout his time in office. Just ask the more than 650,000 North Carolina residents who have worn our country’s uniform.
It’s been a long time since veterans had a champion as dedicated to our interests as President Trump, but we can be confident that we’ll never be forsaken by political leaders again thanks to the critical reforms made by this administration. Under Donald Trump’s leadership, America’s veterans no longer have to wage a second war just to redeem the benefits we earned through our service.
Sgt. Mike Verardo, U.S. Army (retired), is member of the Veterans for Trump coalition advisory board.