Supporting Our Veterans

Putting America’s heroes first.

America First Policies recognizes the need for an immediate overhaul of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Lack of proper oversight, inaccessibility, bad employees, and never-ending wait times have aggravated a crisis in delivering crucial services to our veterans. Appropriate steps must be taken to ensure our men and women in uniform who proudly served this country have easy access to the timely world-class care that they deserve.

The Facts:

  • 20.4 million Americans were veterans in 2016 according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • More than 9 million veterans receive care from the VA health system.
  • The Veterans Health Administration consists of more than 1,240 healthcare facilities and is the largest integrated care system in the country.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs proposed a budget of $198.6 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, a $12.1 billion increase from the prior year.
  • According to a 2015 VA Inspector General report, 307,000 veterans may have died awaiting Veterans Affairs health care.
  • 20 veterans commit suicide every day according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some watchdog groups estimate this number to be even higher.
  • Veterans are 22% more likely to be at risk for suicide compared to non-veterans.
  • The highest suicide rate for veterans is among older adults. In 2014, almost 65% of veterans who committed suicide were age 50 or older.
  • Veterans suffer from PTSD at a much higher rate than members of the general public. According to the VA, 30% of Veterans who served in Vietnam will experience PTSD at some point in their lifetime.

Background:

United States Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, Veteran Population Fiscal Year 2016, https://www.va.gov/vetdata/veteran_population.asp

VA Office of Inspector General, Office of Audits and Evaluations, Veterans Health Administration: “Review of Alleged Mismanagement at the Health Eligibility Center,” September 2, 2015, https://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-14-01792-510.pdf

Curt Devine, “IG Report: 300,000 Veterans Died While Waiting for Health Care at VA,” CNN.com, September 3, 2015, https://www.cnn.com/2015/09/02/politics/va-inspector-general-report/index.html

United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, “VA Releases Veteran Suicide Statistics by State,” September 15, 2017, https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2951

United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Budget, Budget Submission Fiscal Year 2019, https://www.va.gov/budget/products.asp

United States Department of Veterans Affairs, 2017 Annual Report, https://www.va.gov/HEALTH/docs/VHA_AnnualReport_FY2017.pdf ​​​​​​

United States House of Representatives, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, The VA MISSION Act of 2018, https://veterans.house.gov/uploadedfiles/va_mission_act_summary.pdf

John O’Shea, “Reforming Veterans Health Care: Now and for the Future,” Heritage Foundation, June 24, 2016, https://www.heritage.org/health-care-reform/report/reforming-veterans-health-care-now-and-the-future 

Further Reading:

Rebecca Burgess, “Five things to think about with VA reform,” AEIdeas, AEI’s public policy blog, April 27, 2017, http://www.aei.org/publication/five-things-to-think-about-with-va-reform/

Dan Caldwell, “Let's make good on promise to veterans,” La Crosse Tribune (Wisconsin), June 7, 2018, https://lacrossetribune.com/opinion/columnists/dan-caldwell-let-s-make-good-on-promise-to-veterans/article_4152140f-c4c3-5a87-9195-4393e945d2fc.html

James Clark, “I Called The New White House Veterans’ Complaint Line. Here’s How It Went,” Task & Purpose, June 1, 2017, https://taskandpurpose.com/called-new-white-house-veterans-complaint-line-heres-went/

Fred Lucas, “What a Wounded Veteran Thinks of Trump’s VA Reform,” The Daily Signal, June 25, 2017, https://www.dailysignal.com/2017/06/25/wounded-veteran-thinks-trumps-va-reform/

Dan Caldwell, “Avoid political games with crucial VA reform bill,” The Hill, May 14, 2018, http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/387637-avoid-political-games-with-crucial-va-reform-bill

Shad Meshad, “Still a Challenge: Getting Vets to the VA,” National Veterans Foundation, June 26, 2018, https://nvf.org/still-a-challenge-getting-vets-to-the-va/

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