Veteran’s Benefits Aren’t Entitlements
By Dr. Robert Owens 3/15/2020
Federal law requires everyone who enlists in the Armed Forces of the United States to take the enlistment oath. The oath is traditionally performed in front of the United States Flag. Everyone who has ever worn the uniform has said:
“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
When every veteran took this oath to defend our country, our Constitution, and our way of life they presented the nation with a blank check to serve and protect We the People. That check was written with their lives, their bodies, and their sacred honor. They pledged to give their all. And as the saying goes, “All gave some. Some gave all.”
Those of us who have enjoyed generations of peace need to acknowledge our country is the home of the free because of the brave. We live our tranquil lives unmolested by hordes lurking beyond our borders who would love to pillage the richest nation the world has ever seen. From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Normandy from Flanders Field, Inchon, Khe Sanh, Fallujah, and ten thousand nameless battlefields in-between America’s best and brightest have fought selflessly and heroically.
Often, they’ve come home and quietly taken up their lives unrecognized by those of us who reap the benefits of their sacrifice. Sometimes they’ve been ridiculed, belittled, and even spat upon for the debt they paid for the rest of us. Mostly they’ve been forgotten. The benefits promised by a government swift to call and send but slow to remember were often second-rate, slow in coming, or denied all together. Administration after administration paid lip-service to our veterans while doling out benefits with a stingy hand.
But then came Trump.
Since his inauguration President Trump works tirelessly to provide the benefits and services our brave veterans deserve. He seeks to keep the promises made to generations of veterans. He’s leading the charge and winning the battle to finally give our heroes the homecoming they were promised, the one they’ve earned.
President Trump has declared, “My administration is committed to taking care of every warrior that returns home as a veteran.” As a case in point President Trump is ensuring our veterans receive the student loan and educational benefits to which they are entitled and deserve. He has previously noted the process by which our disabled veterans apply for Federal student loan discharges is too burdensome. Which has led to this sad reality; only half of the roughly 50,000 disabled veterans qualified to have their Federal student loans discharged have received this entitled benefit.
Consequently, on August 21, 2019 the President signed a presidential memorandum ensuring our totally and permanently disabled veterans obtain the Federal student loan debt discharges they’re entitled. The memorandum directs the Secretaries of Education and Veterans Affairs to develop a new expedited process to help totally and permanently disabled veterans have their Federal student loan debt discharged with minimal burdens. This combined with the Forever GI Bill which the President signed into law in 2017 allows individuals to access their veteran educational benefits at any point during their lifetime.
Turning to a more general assault on the stone wall standing for too long between our veterans and their earned benefits in June of 2017 the President signed into law the Veterans Affairs (VA) Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, making it easier to fire failing VA employees and support whistleblowers.
Since the passage of this act, the VA has successfully fired more than 7,600 employees who’ve failed our veterans. Previously the archaic rules of the bureaucratic swamp made it almost impossible to remove these roadblocks to the healthcare of veterans. Using the new streamlined policies, the VA has instituted reforms to increase efficiency and decrease abuse.
Consequently, VA healthcare has now significantly improved since President Trump was elected and trust in VA outpatient health care has risen in all areas.
Building the foundations necessary to win the victory in his Battle for the Vets the President signed the VA MISSION Act. This provides more healthcare options for veterans by consolidating existing programs and expanding access to care in veterans’ own communities. Eligible Veterans can use VA health care services nationwide, including through mobile health clinics serving rural areas and via telehealth (care through a phone or computer). Under the MISSION Act, veterans have more ways to access health care.
This includes within the VA’s network and through approved non-VA medical providers in your community, called “community care providers.” Depending on the situation for example, if a certain type of health service isn’t provided by VA the veteran may be able to go to a non-VA provider, using their VA coverage. This is one way to break the logjam which kept so many deserving Vets waiting in line until they died. Because of the reforms spearheaded by President Trump this is a victory for our heroes.
Stepping into a tragedy that unfolds in too many lives of those returning from service, President Trump signed a new Executive Order on a National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Veteran Suicide (PREVENTS) to address veteran suicide prevention. The executive order creates a new cabinet level task force led by VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. The task force will create a comprehensive public health roadmap bringing together local government along with the private sector to improve the quality of life for our Veterans and turn the tide on the Veteran suicide crisis.
“It is about pulling together the resources of the federal government, our states and localities our charities non-government organizations and coming together with a roadmap and resources,” said Secretary Wilkie.
The President said, “Our mission is to mobilize every level of American society to save the lives of our great veterans and support our veterans in need.” The President added, “To every veteran I want you to know that you have an entire nation of more than 300 million people behind you. You will never ever be forgotten. We are with you all the way.”
And remembering Ronald Reagan’s famous quote, “The best social program is a productive job for anyone who’s willing to work,” thanks to the roaring Trump economy since the President’s election, veteran unemployment has been reduced to the lowest level ever recorded.
The VA Secretary Wilke also said, “I’ve said many times that the mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs is to remind our fellow citizens why they sleep soundly at night. They sleep soundly at night because of the sacrifices of a select number of their fellow Americans.” This is a sentiment we would all do well to ponder.
The sum of all this adds up to one thing; Veteran’s benefits aren’t entitlements. They’re payments for services rendered and the least a grateful nation can give to the faithful few who answered the call.