Donald Trump vows to take on ‘corrupt’ Veterans Affairs

Veteran Pete Hegseth reacts on 'Fox & Friends'


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made a new pitch Saturday to veterans, promising them that he’ll take on the “corrupt” and "incompetent” Department of Veterans Affairs.

Trump told a crowd of supporters in front of the U.S.S. Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va., that the department is mismanaged and "not efficient.”  

“We're going to replace them with more effective ones to get our veterans working, which is what they want to do,” Trump said. “We're going to transform the VA to meet the needs of the current veterans. Exposing and addressing the VA's inefficiencies and shortcomings will be rewarded, not punished. We're going to find out why its' going bad and we're going to fix it."

The Trump campaign released a more detailed policy plan after the rally.

"Over 300,000 veterans died waiting for care,” the statement in part read. “Corruption and incompetence were excused. Politicians in Washington have done too little too slowly to fix it."

The Department of Veterans Affairs didn't immediately return a request for comment.

A 2012 Government Accountability Office report found that the Veterans Health Administration, a component of the VA had labeled their outpatient medical-appointment wait times as "unreliable."

In the wake of a congressional investigation into the agency's mishaps, Congress last year approved a $16.3 billion reform package to overhaul the department's actions.

Though mismanagement has seemed to continue at the VA. This July, officials announced they couldn't count how many veterans died while waiting to sign up for health care benefits.

Since announcing his White House run, Trump has touted his support for helping veterans. As a businessman, he says his experience can help improve the ability for those leaving the battlefield to find work.  

"We're going to increase funding for job training and services for companies hiring veterans, and they're getting a great deal because they get incentive and they hire the best people," he told supporters. "We're going to give educational support ... service members have learned valuable skills in the military. But many need help understanding how to apply those skills in civilian life ... others know how to apply those skills, but need help connecting with good jobs to support their families.”

The current job market for veterans appears to be stronger than for the wider public.

While the national unemployment rate sits at 5.1 percent, the rate for all veterans is lower than the national average at 4.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though, specifically for veterans who enlisted after the September 11th terror attacks, the figure is slightly higher at 4.7 percent.

“The VA is lacking two things -- accountability and managers who understand how to manage an enterprise," retired Army Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who served more than 30 years in the military, said Saturday. "Should Trump bring in 'best practices' of what has worked in his Trump business empire, there is no doubt that he could not make the current situation in the VA any worse -- and chances are he could actually move the agency toward accountability and efficiency."

Highlights of the policy plan also include all veterans eligible for VA health care being allowed to bring their veteran’s ID card to any doctor or care facility that accepts Medicare to get the care they need immediately. Another is to increase funding for job training and placement services (including incentives for companies hiring veterans), educational support and business loans.

Trump wants to reform the VA by firing “the corrupt and incompetent VA executives that let our veterans down,” according to his plan.

“Under a Trump Administration, there will be no job security for VA executives that enabled or overlooked corruption and incompetence,” the policy statements says.

Chris Snyder is a producer for Fox News based in New York. Follow him on twitter: @ChrisSnyderFox