Commentary

Biden failed veterans as VP, he’d fail them again as president

Former Vice President Joe Biden makes a lot of claims about the military and veterans in his infrequent public appearances and campaign website, but can we really trust what he says or what he’ll do for veterans as president? The answer is no, as we can see from his record of failure and misrepresenting the truth.

According to a 2019 Axios story, “Biden misrepresented nearly every detail of his involvement in a 2008 war story.” “Almost every part of Biden’s account appears false.” Per interviews conducted by the Washington Post, Biden got the “time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony.” How can veterans trust Biden when he shows his lack of respect with faked and misrepresented war stories?

Biden’s campaign website lists many accomplishments over his 40-year career in government to bolster his standing with veterans. The real story that veterans know is that during his time as vice president, the VA was poorly run, and veterans were hurt and died. The scandals veterans remember when Biden was vice president were the serious mismanagement of disability claims and the mortal results of misreported health care wait-times.

His first big failure as VP was disability claims. Biden’s website claims that he’s responsible for reducing the disability claims backlog during a scandal that emerged in 2013. During the previous five years, the VA saw claims waiting over 125 days grow exponentially to a record of more than 611,000 backlogged claims, causing veterans to wait for months and years for benefits to help them with their service-connected disabilities.

Biden would like you to believe he solved the backlog scandal. He didn’t. He oversaw the problems that created the mess. Under Biden, veterans trying to get their benefits found that what Biden now takes credit for, led to an even longer claims backlog making them wait years for the benefits they deserve. It took President Donald Trump to push for and sign the first ever appeals modernization legislation to put the VA on a path to permanently fix the claims backlogs that the Obama-Biden administration did not.

Biden’s next big failure as VP was veterans' health care. He states that his goal would be to provide world-class health care for veterans. Good goal, but he must have forgotten how under his administration the VA suffered its worse scandal ever when veterans waiting for appointments died without getting the health care they needed. As CNN reported in 2014, “At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.” The VA’s wait-time scandal in 2014 exposed institutional failures that had become common across the entire VA.

Instead of providing veterans world-class heath care, Biden’s plan takes the VA back to not holding the management teams accountable and to roll back veterans' health care choices. It took President Trump to campaign for and sign the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 and the MISSION Act of 2018 to hold management accountable and provide veterans the first permanent health choice that will ensure the Obama-Biden VA health care scandal will never happen again.

The rest of Biden’s veterans plan is a “me too” echo of what President Trump is already doing for veterans today through his signed legislative efforts and executive orders for veteran suicide prevention (PREVENTS Task Force), Forever GI Bill, and many others.

In President Trump’s first term in office he’s done more to completely change the trajectory of the VA from failure to successful reform. No other president before him has done so much for veterans in a first term.

The same Biden that let problems grow and fester into scandals that hurt veterans, now wants veterans to believe he’ll, “restore the VA” if elected. Veterans know better. Veterans know President Trump has already restored the VA and put into motion the most comprehensive transformation in the VA’s history. Veterans know what’s happening at the VA under President Trump’s leadership and their trust in VA health care has now risen above 90 percent for the first time ever.

Veterans know what Biden did when he had the chance as VP — he failed them and misrepresented the truth. In November, veterans will have the opportunity to choose between President Trump’s record of VA successes, or the Biden track record of VA failures. We choose to support President Donald J. Trump and his continued world-class reform and transformation of the VA that serves and meets the needs of every veteran.

Peter O’Rourke is the former Veterans Affairs acting secretary and chief of staff under President Donald J. Trump. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force and enlisted airman in the United States Navy.

Darin Selnick is the former veteran affairs adviser on the Trump White House Domestic Policy Council and a former senior adviser to the VA secretary for the Trump administration. He was also a commissioner on the Commission on Care.

Editor’s note: This is an Op-Ed and as such, the opinions expressed are those of the author. If you would like to respond, or have an editorial of your own you would like to submit, please contact Military Times managing editor Howard Altman, haltman@militarytimes.com.

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