Trump spoke to a crowd of about 5,000.
|10/31/15, Virginian Pilot|
|10/31/15, Virginian Pilot|
|10/31/15, You Tube screen shot|
10/31/15, "Donald Trump Gets Specific on Veteran's Affairs Policy Reform Plan," NBC News, Ali Vitali, Norfolk, Va.
"Donald Trump proposed a series of reforms to the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs on Saturday, delving deep into the specifics of his plan for nearly half an hour at a rally in Virginia before releasing the documents online a few hours later.
In the policy paper on Trump's website, the Republican presidential candidate railed against the current state of the VA, calling it "absolutely unacceptable" and proposed three principle tenets to a reform plan that he feels will ameliorate many of the problems veterans currently face with the scandal-scarred agency.
According to Trump, his plan will "ensure our veterans get the care they need wherever and whenever they need it," "support the whole veteran" by treating both their physical and mental health needs and "make the VA great again by firing the corrupt and incompetent VA executives who let our veterans down."
Trump outlined this plan for the first time at a rally Saturday afternoon, ahead of the plan's release, where he spoke in front of the U.S.S. Wisconsin to a crowd of about 5,000 supporters....
"All veterans eligible for VA healthcare can bring their veteran's ID cards to any doctor or care facility that accepts Medicare to get the care they need immediately," he said.
Trump promises an increase in funding for PTSD and suicide prevention services, increased funding for job training, incentives for companies that hire vets and working with non-profits that already work with vets to find employment opportunities.
The Trump VA plan also provides a focus on female vets, who Trump says exemplify some of this "new generation of veterans."
"The fact that many VA hospitals don't permanently staff OBGYN doctors shows an utter lack of respect for the growing number of female veterans," the plan states. "Under the Trump plan, every VA hospital in the country will be fully equipped with OBGYN and other women's health services."
In the eyes of the real estate mogul-turned-politician, Trump's plan requires managerial prowess — a skill that he frequently touts as one that only he possesses in a saturated Republican primary field.
"It's time we have to say it," he told the Virginia crowd, "I like Ben Carson. But there's no way he can fix this, folks."
Trump has hit Carson on his ability to manage before, saying that Carson's tax plan for a flat tax across the board would grow agencies like the IRS — a move that Trump explains would increase bureaucratic red tape.
In his plan, Trump also bucked the idea that throwing money at problems in the VA would work.
"Politicians in Washington have tried to fix the VA by holding hearings and blindly throwing money at the problem. None of it has worked," Trump writes, citing wait times that were "50 (percent) higher this summer" than the year before.
"It's time we stop trusting Washington politicians to fix the problems and empower our veterans to vote with their feet," he wrote."
10/31/15, "Trump releases plan aimed at improving veterans' care," AP via wral.com, Jill Colvin
"Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump released a plan on Saturday aimed at improving veterans' health care and other services in the wake of continued criticism of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Under Trump's plan, eligible veterans would be able to bring their veterans' identification cards to any doctor or facility that accepts Medicare and be able to receive immediate treatment. He said the change, which has also been proposed by other GOP candidates, would help improve wait times and services by adding competition.
"The VA will become more responsive to veterans, develop more efficient systems, and improve the quality of care because it will have no other choice," it reads....
Trump's plan would also increase funding for treating for post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide prevention services as well as provide additional job training and placement. It also calls for better support for female veterans, including improved health services....
Trump has also released policy papers on immigration, the Second Amendment and tax reform.
Veterans groups have criticized another presidential contender, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, for proposing to eliminate the Veterans Health Administration entirely."
Four Trump position papers to date:
Trump Veterans Plan, "Veterans Administration Reforms That Will Make America Great Again"
Trump Immigration Plan, "Immigration Reform That Will Make America Great Again"
Trump Tax Reform Plan, "Tax Reform that will Make America Great Again"
Trump on the Second Amendment, "PROTECTING OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN"
Six image credits:
#1: Virginian Pilot image: "In Norfolk, Trump announces plan to improve veterans' care," Virginian Pilot, by Dave Mayfield, Patrick Wilson. Image by Steve Earley, Virginian Pilot
#2: AP image: "Trump releases plan aimed at improving veterans' care," AP
#3: Virginian Pilot image: "In Norfolk, Trump announces plan to improve veterans' care," Virginian Pilot, by Dave Mayfield, Patrick Wilson. Image by Steve Earley, Virginian Pilot
#4: Getty image: "Donald Trump Gets Specific on Veteran's Affairs Policy Reform Plan," NBC News, Ali Vitali, Norfolk, Va. Sara D. Davis / Getty Images" from NBC News article: "
#5, You Tube screen shot from Trump rally in Norfolk, Virginia, 10/31/15
#6. AP image, "Trump releases plan aimed at improving veterans' care," AP, Jill Colvin
This report says Trump's audience was "overwhelmingly white." In case you wanted to know.
10/31/15, "In Norfolk, Trump announces plan to improve veterans' care," Virginian Pilot, by Dave Mayfield, Patrick Wilson, Norfolk
"Standing to the starboard side of the region’s most visible symbol of military might, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump found an easy target on which to train his own guns Saturday: the nation’s troubled network of care for veterans.
Trump, in a rally next to the battleship Wisconsin, said he’d root out incompetence and corruption in the Department of Veterans Affairs, firing anyone who stood in the way of reforms he promised would give vets more choices and faster treatment for injuries and illnesses.
Several thousand turned out for the speech at the spot where 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney introduced Paul Ryan as his running mate. The current GOP frontrunner crowed that he’d been told his appearance drew a lot more people.
It wasn’t the only boast from the billionaire businessman and reality-TV celebrity during the nearly 90-minute speech.
He said he’d use his negotiating skills and unpredictability to rewrite U.S. relations with Iran and China, which he said have run roughshod over weak U.S. negotiators. “I mean, you can’t blame China if we have people that are incompetent representing us.”
Trump repeated his promise to build a wall to quell illegal immigration – and make Mexico foot its multibillion-dollar cost. He pledged to cut new trade deals to bring jobs back from overseas. And he said he intends to spend more on defense. “We are going to build our military so big and so strong and so powerful that we’re not going have to use it, most likely.”
But in a speech strewn with asides and jabs at his rivals – Democrats and Republicans--Trump devoted the most time to veterans’ health care.
His campaign released a three-page paper outlining what the candidate wants to reform in a system plagued by chronically long wait times for appointments.
The VA health system is a “total disaster,” Trump said.
“They pour money at it, but then everybody steals the money,” he said. “The Trump plan will make the VA great again.”
Trump hit the highlights of his plan, saying that veterans would be allowed to choose an alternative to the VA if they were unsatisfied. He’d require every VA hospital to have an obstetrics/gynecology unit, calling it unacceptable that that is not already the case. He’d also establish satellite VA clinics within hospitals in rural areas and other places lacking a VA presence.
The man whose best-known line is “You’re fired!” didn’t disappoint those who came to hear him say it. That’s exactly what he’d tell VA administrators who dragged their feet, he promised.
Eric Shinseki, the former secretary of Veterans Affairs, resigned in 2014 after a scandal in which employees conspired to cover up the length of time veterans were waiting for health care.
Trump’s audience Saturday was overwhelmingly white and skewed middle age or older. Many held signs proclaiming, “The silent majority stands with Trump.”
Hampton Roads radio show host Steve Batton emceed the rally. Gary Byler, a Virginia Beach lawyer, GOP activist and former state House candidate, was introduced as Trump’s Hampton Roads chair. Virginia Beach School Board member Carolyn Weems spoke and endorsed Trump.
About 40 vets, recruited from the crowd by rally organizers, stood on stage behind Trump throughout the speech.
Among them was Toby Yarbrough, a retired Army sergeant from Chesapeake who said the rally was the first political event he’d attended.
Yarbrough, who was disabled in a heavy-equipment accident while serving in Iraq in 2002, brought his service dog, a German shepherd named Duke. He said he found Trump’s penchant for political incorrectness refreshing. “We need more nonpoliticians to run our country. So many politicians have their hands in our pockets, it’s pitiful.”
His experience with the VA has been a nightmare, Yarbrough said.
A handful of protesters stood at the entrance of the event in opposition to Trump’s immigration proposals.
Trump shot to the top of the polls shortly after his announcement speech in June, which drew widespread media attention for comments about Mexican immigrants, and he has remained first in most polls since then.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the two GOP establishment candidates closest to Trump in polls, have had difficulty gaining ground. Trump’s attacks on Bush as a “low-energy person” are credited with helping dampen his well-financed campaign.
Trump jabbed at Bush on Saturday: “I think I’m going to revive him. It’s not fair.”
People in the crowd exclaimed, “No!”
The Trump phenomenon is difficult to explain, said Soji Akomolafe, chair of the Department of Political Science at Norfolk State University.
“Nobody saw it coming,” said Akomolafe, who said he thinks Trump could be the GOP nominee. “There’s no way Jeb Bush is going to come back from the political grave that he’s in right now thanks to The Donald.”
Virginia’s GOP presidential primary is March 15."