Just as homelessness among vets was on the rise, Trump's VA sought to undercut their security.
Universally condemned by veterans’ advocates for moving to demolish a popular $460 million federal program that has helped to reduce the number homelessness among those who have served, the Trump administration has reversed course.
“There will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless program,” Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin announced.
On Dec. 1, Shulkin stunned advocates when he announced ending the program and sending the money to local VA hospitals and letting them decide how to use the grant money.
That came just days after Shulkin appeared at a major Washington, D.C., event to tout the VA’s commitment to hype Donald Trump’s commitment to ending veteran homelessness.
Veterans groups were astonished by the move to cut a program designed the help chronically ill veterans. Even employees within the Veterans Administration were caught off guard by the announcement.
“I don’t understand why you are pulling the rug out,” Elisha Harig-Blaine, a National League of Cities housing official told Politico. “You’re putting at risk the lives of men and women who’ve served this country.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who sits on a veterans’ affairs subcommittee, called the move “a new low.”
The sweeping attempt to cut back funds came just as HUD released its annual report showing a 1.5 percent increase in veteran homelessness over 2016, which represented the first increase since 2010.
Trump himself has routinely disrespected veterans. He attacked Gold Star families during the campaign. He has lied about donating to veterans groups. He recently told a widow, Myeshia Johnson, that her dead husband “knew what he signed up for” when he joined the military, and then seemed to forget her husband’s name.
And just last week, Trump used a racial slur during a White House ceremony to honor Native American WWII heroes.
The decision not to end such a critical program, especially when homelessness among vets is on the rise for the first time in seven years, is the right thing to do. Even if belatedly.