President Trump joked Thursday that he’s done so much for veterans in less than half a term, he might as well leave office immediately.
Hosting a conference with state and local veterans leaders at the White House, Mr. Trump recited his achievements on behalf of veterans in less than two years. The list includes expanded health care “choice” options, increased funding for mental health services, legislation making it easier to fire employees for wrongdoing at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and speeding up veterans’ benefits claims and appeals.
“The fact is, I’ve done a lot,” Mr. Trump told the group. “Goodbye, everybody. It’s more than anybody’s even thought about, and I’m proud of it. I figured I did so much, I could leave now.”
Then he added, “But we’re not finished.”
Mr. Trump’s glowing assessment came less than a week after the VA reassigned a top official following computer problems that delayed GI Bill payments to hundreds of thousands of veterans, according to a report by NBC News.
The president, who received heavy criticism on social media for canceling a trip to an American military cemetery in France on Saturday due to rain, noted that he visited another American cemetery the following day. After returning to the U.S. Sunday night, he didn’t hold any Veterans Day observances on Monday.
Mr. Trump said he visited the cemetery in France on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I “to pay tribute to the brave Americans who laid down their lives for their nation.”
“We will never forget what these heroes did to win the war and to secure the peace,” he said.
To veterans and their families, Mr. Trump said, “I want to express the eternal gratitude and thanks of our entire nation.”
The president also said the VA has reduced wait times for veterans health care services by nearly 25 percent. The VA was embroiled in scandal during the Obama administration for covering up lengthy waits for appointments, and delays in care that led to the deaths of veterans across the country.
“I know what you’ve gone through, especially before we came into office, what you went through was incredible — horrible in certain ways,” Mr. Trump told the group. “We have to do more, and we’re working to do more. This is a top priority for my administration until we get it right, and we’re getting close.”