Does President Trump actually put veterans first?
via AP

Does President Trump actually put veterans first?

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Ahead of Veterans Day, The White House released a statement outlining how President Trump is "putting our veterans first." Trump has long championed veteran's issues, promising to reform Department of Veterans Affairs, improving access to health care and providing veterans with education upon exiting the military. But critics argue Trump is just exploiting veterans for his own political gain. If he actually cared about them, he wouldn't attack POWs and Gold Star families. What do you think? 🎖️

The Votes Are In!

The White House released a statement ahead of Veterans Day titled "President Donald J. Trump is Putting Our Veterans First." The release lists various ways in which the Trump administration will reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, improve veteran's health care, honor our service members and ensure veterans are taken care of after they leave the military.

  • INITIATING CRITICAL REFORMS: President Donald J. Trump is bringing urgently needed accountability and reform to the VA.
  • MODERNIZING AND EXPANDING CHOICE: President Trump believes that our veterans deserve the best healthcare in the world, and is working to bring the Department of Veterans Affairs up to modern standards.
  • EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR VETERANS: President Trump is taking action to expand opportunities for veterans after they leave military service.
  • HONORING OUR HEROES: President Trump is working on behalf of a grateful nation to ensure that our veterans are properly recognized for their service and sacrifice.

While Trump often boasts about his admiration for the military, he has a questionable history when it comes to his treatment of service members. 

Most recently, he accused veteran and newly-elected Virginia governor Ralph Northam of being weak and disputed remarks made by a pregnant Army widow who claimed Trump made her cry when he couldn't remember her dead husband's name.

Trump also angered some when he accepted a Purple Heart and joked "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier." Despite Trump's words about how much he loves veterans, his actions appear to paint a different picture.

But Trump won veterans by 2-to-1 in 2016, numbers "higher than those John McCain and Mitt Romney candidates had over President Obama in 2008 and 2012." 

Despite the fact that Trump never served in the military due to "bone spurs," accused John McCain of not being a real war hero and sparred with the parents of a fallen Muslim U.S. soldier—all prior to the election—Trump ultimately won the overwhelming support of veterans, which has hardly waned since.

Despite these controversies, Trump boasted an outpour of support from U.S. veterans. Trump won Ohio's Montgomery County, home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, 48.4 percent to 47.1. Montgomery County voted in favor of Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

Sarah Jones argues in the New Republic that Trump uses veterans as nothing more than political props. Trump signed an executive order freezing federal hiring, which many argue would negatively affect veterans the most.

The Military Times reported last November that veterans now comprise roughly one third of the federal workforce—or more than 600,000 positions—a testament to the success of projects like former President Barack Obama’s Veteran Employment Initiative... any federal hiring freeze—even a temporary one, like Trump’s executive order—inevitably affects veterans.

The veterans group VoteVets has slammed the president repeatedly for "punishing veterans" through executive order, as well as disrespecting service members by attacking Gold Star families.

You are not just attacking us, you are cheapening the sacrifice made by those we lost.
You are minimizing the risk our service members make for all of us.
This goes beyond politics. It is about a sense of decency. That kind decency you mock as "political correctness." 

But despite all the controversy, Trump still enjoys immense support from military veterans who finally feel their voice is being heard. After signing a VA healthcare spending boost into law earlier this year, the Trump administration touted in a statement:

[The VA Choice and Quality Employment Act] allocated $3.9 billion in spending. The largest chunk, $2.1 billion, will be used to expand a program to ensure care for veterans who live in rural areas, far from VA hospitals or clinics. The remaining $1.8 billion will go toward hiring more staff, improving existing VA facilities and opening 28 new VA clinics across the country.
During the campaign, Trump pushed a plan that would allow veterans who do not live close to a VA hospital to get care from a private medical provider and have their expenses reimbursed through Medicare. The funding will provide a major boost an existing a provision known as the Veterans Choice Program.

It seems Trump has done enough thus far to convince veterans that he still puts them first.

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