American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt expressed extreme disappointment in the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The administration’s budget for the VA would effectively lower the earnings of our most vulnerable veterans by reducing or eliminating disability payments from veterans who are the most in need,” Schmidt said. “This is absolutely unacceptable to us.”
If approved by Congress, the president’s budget would stop higher disability payments to veterans once they become minimally eligible for Social Security. Veterans currently enrolled in the Individual Unemployability program, which is available to those who cannot work and receive the maximum disability compensation from VA, would see their benefits slashed by nearly two-thirds in some instances.
Another disturbing provision caps working age unemployability at age 62. Schmidt pointed out that many members of Congress continue to work past 70.
“This plan breaks faith with veterans,” Schmidt said. “Moreover, it’s an assault on TRICARE benefits, which were earned by veterans who spent decades of their lives serving and defending the Constitution of the United States. We are also alarmed by the cannibalization of services needed for the Choice program. It is a ‘stealth’ privatization attempt which The American Legion fully opposes. Choice should not be advanced to the detriment of cost of living increases for veterans.
"We hope all veterans, families and supporters of veterans call their elected officials and demand a well-functioning, properly-funded, transparent, and accountable Department of Veterans Affairs, and a presidential budget that fully supports veterans’ needs.”