The Trump administration is ending a popular and effective program that prevents veterans from ending up on the street — just as the number of homeless vets is on the rise.
Donald Trump, from the outset, cast himself as a champion of veterans, and promised that he would improve veterans care as president.
But the toxic right-wing ideology of Trump and his administration has nonetheless seeped into the way they take care of and prioritize veterans.
According to Politico, a popular program to house homeless veterans is on the chopping block — and at the worst possible moment:
Four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin held a big Washington event to tout the Trump administration’s promise to house all homeless vets, the agency did an about-face, telling advocates it was pulling resources from a major housing program.
The VA said it was essentially ending a special $460 million program that has dramatically reduced homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans. Instead, the money would go to local VA hospitals that can use it as they like, as long as they show evidence of dealing with homelessness.
Anger exploded on a Dec. 1 call that was arranged by Shulkin’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans to explain the move. Advocates for veterans, state officials and even officials from HUD, which co-sponsors the program, attacked the decision, according to five people who were on the call.
Shulkin’s decision makes absolutely no sense. The move does not save money, since the funding would simply be routed to other facilities. The effect is that it would just be used far less efficiently — and many more homeless veterans will be forced out onto the streets.
“The people in this program are the most vulnerable individuals,” Matt Leslie, who runs the housing program for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, told Politico. “If someone’s going to die on the streets, they are the ones.”
To make matters even worse, a report released earlier today shows that the population of homeless veterans increased in 2017 — the first time it has done so in seven years.
And this is only the most recent of Trump’s assaults on veteran care. While his proposed budget blueprint increased the VA’s budget, it grossly cut individual veteran benefits.
The callousness and insincerity of the Trump administration’s effort to help those Americans who served is simply another reminder that Trump only values their sacrifices when they are useful as props. From attacking Gold Star families to using a racial slur in front of Native American WWII heroes, Trump’s regard for the military changes on a dime.
Our military heroes have risked too much, and done too much for our freedoms, to be subjected to this kind of treatment. They deserve a president who honors commitments.