We as Americans owe an enormous debt of gratitude toward those who serve in our Armed Forces. Our safety, and our way of life, are in their capable hands. I support the Administration’s efforts to provide sufficient resources to protect our country.
But it is when their service has ended that our veterans must turn to us, the American people, to live up to our promises to them when we sent them into harm’s way, or demanded sacrifices so that our Nation can be secure. In particular, our veterans deserve top-notch care for their medical needs. Some of those needs arose from injuries and wounds suffered in combat. And some arise as they do among all of us. But all of our veterans’ medical needs deserve attention. Yet it is well-known that the Department of Veterans Affairs has repeatedly failed to deliver the top-notch care our veterans deserve. Many doctors and nurses in the VA work under enormously difficult circumstances, and perform minor miracles — and some major ones — each day. But all too often our veterans’ care falls short.
The VA’s own inspector general in recent years has pointed out the systemic effort of VA administrators to hide the inordinate wait times being experienced by veterans. We found out that veterans died for want of prompt care. Let me be clear — No veteran should die because he or she has to wait for care. They didn’t hesitate to put their lives on the line for us. We can’t hesitate to be there for them in their hour of need.
I applaud the Trump Administration’s efforts to reform the VA. We need to devote more resources. We need to give veterans more choice of health care solutions. Most importantly, we need to listen to our veterans as to what their needs are and what their experiences are in receiving health care. And we need to respond.
The Trump Administration has made veterans’ care a priority. And one way it has done that is by insisting that underperforming employees can be terminated. The VA does not exist to serve its bureaucrats — it exists to serve our veterans. We must assess veterans’ satisfaction with health care and care about their concerns, just as they cared about our safety. If we need to spend more, we will, but let’s make sure we get the best care possible without bloated bureaucracies.
My dad was a veteran, and like his fellow soldiers, he didn’t join the service to get health care. But like all veterans past and present, he deserved it. To me, this is personal. No veteran should be deprived of high-quality health care. As a U.S. Senator, I will be a leading advocate for veterans’ health. It’s the least we can do.