Republicans Vote to Cut Veteran Health Programs and Benefits
Touting fiscal responsibility, the 2023 GOP debt ceiling bill will cut all federal programs by 22%, with no carve-out for veteran programs. This will result in extreme cuts to essential veteran programs, and has prompted an overwhelming bi-partisan outcry by veterans and groups that serve them.
Impact of Cutting Spending for Veteran Programs
Cutting funding by 22 percent would mean 30 million fewer veteran outpatient visits, and 81,000 jobs lost across the Veterans Health Administration—leaving veterans unable to get appointments for care including wellness visits, cancer screenings, mental health services, and substance use disorder treatment.
These cuts would be especially devastating given the challenges that veterans already face when it comes to accessing healthcare and other benefits. Many veterans return from their service with physical and mental health issues that require ongoing care, and they may also struggle to find employment or housing. Cutting funding for programs that support these needs would only make things worse.
Veterans, particularly those with injuries from war and others seeking to start small businesses, also depend on a number of non-VA programs facing similar cuts. For example, nearly a million veterans and military families depend on SNAP (food stamps) and face losing the resources they deserve to keep their families fed and roofs over their heads.
Veterans Respond to GOP’s Bill
The bill prompted a coalition of about two dozen veterans groups, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, to write a letter to Congress last week voicing alarm.
“If enacted, the proposed legislation would dramatically reduce total federal discretionary spending and could endanger funding for [the Department of Veterans Affairs] and veterans’ programs,” the letter said.
“Without specific language to explicitly protect VA from the impact of the proposed budget reductions, it would leave many veteran resources open to cuts, potentially undoing years of progress VA has made for those that have earned it. … Our nation’s veterans, caregivers, and survivors have already sacrificed too much. Our country must keep our promises and provide them with the best healthcare and benefits possible.”
Americans Take Action to Protect Our Veterans
The GOP's refusal to exempt veterans' programs from these cuts sends a message that they do not value the sacrifices that veterans have made for their country. It is not enough to pay lip service to veterans' service and sacrifice; we must back up our words with actions that show that we truly care about their well-being.
As Americans, we have a moral obligation to take care of those who have put their lives on the line to defend our country. We must stand up for our veterans and make sure they have access to healthcare programs. Our actions reflect our values.