The Right Wants to Make Disabled Veterans Into the New “Welfare Queens”

New article in Jacobin

The Right Wants to Make Disabled Veterans Into the New “Welfare Queens”

Conservatives have long worked to dismantle the American welfare state. They’ve been so successful that some are even turning their sights on a formerly sacrosanct group: combat veterans returned from war.

Since 2015, billions of dollars have been diverted from VHA care to private doctors and hospitals who treat veterans in costlier and less effective fashion. This cannibalization of the VHA budget began under President Barack Obama, escalated during the Donald Trump era, and continues under Joe Biden.

Up until now, few Republicans, or their allies like the Koch brothers–funded Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), dared to attack the VA-run Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), a sacred cow even for conservatives. Nearly six million veterans currently receive payments for service-related medical conditions that left them partially or totally impaired; among them are 1.3 million men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their total compensation, plus pensions, costs the public about $110 billion per year.

Publication of a new book, touted by Trump’s last VA secretary, signals that any ceasefire over veterans’ benefits has ended inside the Beltway. In Wounding Warriors: How Bad Policy is Making Veterans Sicker and Poorer, Daniel Gade, a retired US Army lieutenant colonel and former Trump administration official, has teamed up with an ex–Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Huang, to demand major “entitlement reform” at the VBA.

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