Trump has also consistently taken credit for fixing the VA, even as systemic problems persist.
The Republican National Convention on Wednesday attempted to paint Donald Trump as a champion of military veterans, airing footage of several of them praising his time in office.
"He's accomplished a lot in 3.5 years.... He's done a lot for veterans and the middle class," said one veteran.
"This is the best president we've ever had and ever will have, I believe," said another.
Trump has repeatedly portrayed himself as a hero to military members and veterans, among other things by taking credit for fixing their health care system by supposedly passing the Veterans Choice health care law, the 2014 legislation that sought to remedy systemic problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But Trump did not sign Veterans Choice, which gives veterans the option of seeing doctors outside the VA health care system, into law. Nor was he responsible for shortening wait times or fixing the system overall as he so often claims.
It was Trump's predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who signed Veterans Choice into law, following a scandal at the VA over long wait times for care.
Trump has been making the false claim that he signed the legislation, however, for more than a year.
In May 2019, he falsely claimed at a campaign rally, "We passed VA Choice and VA Accountability to give our veterans the care that they deserve and they have been trying to pass these things for 45 years."
Trump has made the claim multiple times since, including on Aug. 8, when he again lied and said he was the one who passed the law.
"They've been trying to get that passed for decades and decades and decades and no president's ever been able to do it, and we got it done," Trump said at a news conference from his New Jersey golf club that was paid for by taxpayers yet looked more like a political rally, blurring ethics lines.
When a reporter told Trump he was wrong and that Veterans Choice was not signed during his administration, he became angry and abruptly left his news conference.
As the New York Times pointed out earlier in the week, Trump's broader assertions about the VA and veterans are also flawed.
Allegations of racism, sexism, and mismanagement still plague the VA.
Additionally, the Times writes,
The suicide rate among veterans...has not been reduced. The Trump administration’s cutbacks at the post office have hit some veterans, who say they are unable to get their prescriptions by mail.
And while care for veterans with coronavirus appeared to go well — deaths at the hospitals were lower than at many health systems — the department was plagued by a lack of protective equipment for its workers.
And an expensive plan to convert the system’s medical records electronically has hit one delay after another.
As for wait times, the Associated Press has noted that "care provided under the Choice private-sector program is not as immediate as Trump suggests, nor does it always work out much better."
"Currently only veterans who endure waits of at least 30 days — not nine days — for an appointment at a VA facility are eligible to receive care from private doctors at government expense," the outlet wrote in June 2018. "Under a newly expanded Choice program that will take at least a year to implement, veterans will still have to meet certain criteria before they can see a private physician, such as when a local VA facility does not offer the services required or veterans face an 'unusual or excessive burden' to getting the care they need."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.