After I was discharged from the Army, I got a job helping homeless Veterans find shelter and medical care. There, I met a fellow Veteran who had been exposed to atomic testing during the Cold War.
He showed me his back, which was streaked with scars, and I knew I wanted to help him — but the government didn’t. They wouldn’t help because he couldn’t prove the injury was caused by exposure to a nuclear test, despite the evidence he was wearing.
Like me, this man had signed up to serve our country — risking his life in the process — because he believed in our freedoms and the values we stood for. But when he returned home, he found a government that turned its back on him. And now today, Veterans are still facing the same barriers to healthcare from the very government they fought to defend.
Last week, Trump paid lip service to our nation’s heroes by demanding Congress fund a program that allows greater access to healthcare for Veterans — but laced his request with cuts to other vital parts of the national budget. A request that he knows is a dead end.
This is shameful. We cannot remain silent and let Trump and his allies in Congress treat Veterans this way. This is the same administration that gave a $1.5 trillion tax cut to the 1%. The same administration that wants to spend $12 million on a military parade in Trump’s honor. But now they’re telling us they can’t afford healthcare for those of us who put on a uniform to serve our country.
Many Veterans, despite every missed birthday, anniversary, and day away from home, would sign up to defend our country again without hesitating. Because that’s what you do when you love something so much — you sacrifice what you need to in order to protect it.
So why can’t our country offer them the basic right to affordable healthcare in return? It’s simple: because Trump, Paul Ryan and their allies in Congress have been too busy giving handouts to their friends with deep pockets and special interest groups.