Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Saturday announced a plan to reform the veterans health system at a rally in Norfolk, Va.
“We’re going to take care of those wounded warriors and we’re going to take care of our vets better than anybody.”he said, speaking in front the USS Wisconsin — the same spot where now-Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was formally introduced as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012.
Trump promised that in his administration, veterans would receive better healthcare more quickly.
“The plan will ensure our veterans get the care they need, wherever and whenever they need it,” he said.
Trump said that he would institute policies that would see Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities competing with non-VA hospitals. He said that under his plan, any veteran could go to a doctor that accepts Medicare and receive care.
In a winding indictment of the VA system, he targeted Veterans Health Administration hospitals that came under fire in the last year for keeping long wait lists of veterans who needed crucial care.
“Think about me going to my doctor’s office and waiting four days,” he said. “If I wait 15 minutes, I’m angry as hell at the doctor.”
Trump said the VA system needed to be maintained but reformed.
“I don’t want to get rid of it, I want to supplement it,” he said.
He promised to fire “the corrupt and incompetent VA executives who let our veterans down” and update the VA’s policies to meet the needs of the younger veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The fact that many VA hospitals don’t permanently staff OB-GYN doctors shows an utter lack of respect for the growing number of female veterans,” Trump said, pledging that under his leadership, every VA hospital would have doctors specializing in women’s health.
Veterans hospitals would, he added, put in place technology that connect patients to doctors and allows them to manage their care.
Trump’s campaign said Saturday in a plan posted on his website that he would also focus his efforts on building mental health programs for veterans.
He promised to increase the funding available “for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and suicide prevention services.”
“More funding will also support research on best practices and state of the art treatments to keep our veterans alive, healthy and whole,” the campaign said.
“With these steps, the Trump plan will help the veteran community put the unnecessary stigma surrounding mental health behind them and instead encourage acceptance and treatment in our greater society.”
Trump, who appeared to break from his extemporaneous remarks to consult a document while speaking about his policy proposal, said he would also invest in policies to help ease the transition from active duty to civilian life.
He pledged to institute programs to help veterans start businesses and find employment, including by incentivizing companies to hire veterans.
His administration would also partner with non-profit organizations working on veterans issues, he said.