I'm a veteran — and I'm sick of Trump lying about what he did for my health care


Veterans Choice was passed and signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014.

My pride in my service as a veteran comes from the values the Marines instilled in me. One of those values is honesty, and I feel personally exploited by Donald Trump's incessant lying about having passed Veterans Choice.

That lying comes close to stolen valor, claiming credit for something that he had nothing to do with, and it is a claim he has reportedly made 150 times so far, with no signs of stopping.

It needs to stop.

I have been a patient in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system for two decades. I am a Marine Corps veteran with a service-connected disability from a severe injury sustained while on active duty.

I am deeply grateful for the care that I receive from the wonderful people at the VA and the American people for funding and supporting the system. I also happen to be a lifelong Republican, and I am unhappy with how Trump has treated veterans.

I have heard him state many times — at public events, speaking engagements, interviews, and press conferences that — for decades, there was a major problem with the VA system. The issue was that disabled veterans frequently had to drive hours to the closest VA facility multiple times a week for routine care, such as physical therapy.

I was one of those people. I spent five hours in the car, which often defeated the purpose of the treatment.

Trump correctly states that for years veteran advocates tried to pass a "Veterans Choice" law that would allow patients to go to a local private provider for routine care when there was no available treatment nearby at a VA facility. However, he incorrectly finishes that statement by saying he was the one who finally broke the logjam and got it passed into law.

That is simply not true.

Veterans Choice was passed and signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014. I know because I was one of the very first veterans able to use the new law.

I sustained a hip injury in 2015 and required physical therapy three times a week. The closest VA facility for physical therapy is 90 minutes away. Choice allowed me to go to a provider five minutes from my house, which was a great relief to my family and me.

Trump has continued to claim credit for this law in speeches. And at Wednesday's Republican National Convention, Mike Pence gave Trump credit as well.

"We reformed the VA," Pence said, "and Veterans Choice is now available for every veteran in America."

I cannot understand how Trump and his administration can repeatedly exploit disabled veterans like me with a blatant lie for his own political gain.

Trump appears to believe that if he lies about something enough, people will begin to accept the lie as the truth. It is not working on me.

I did not vote for President Obama. But I am grateful to him and to members of Congress from both parties for Veterans Choice. I would be thankful if Trump would stop claiming credit for a law passed while he was running golf resorts.

Ron Filipkowski is an attorney based in Sarasota, Florida. He served in the Marine Corps from 1986 to 1990.