Big Government is Bad for Veterans

It’s no secret that the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) confuddled federal bureaucracy has done, and continues to do a huge disservice to our nation’s military service members. Wait times are out of control and it’s becoming overwhelmingly clear that continuing to throw endless money at this bloated federal disaster has only made the problem worse. Over the past 20 years, funding has increased from $47-$240 billion despite the fact that it’s abundantly clear that the VA still isn’t improving their efficiency.

During an off-site Congressional hearing at FreedomWorks HQ, members of the House Freedom Caucus listened to first-hand accounts from veterans who’ve been victims of the federal government’s grip on veteran healthcare. Countless stories were recounted by veterans who were unable to access quality care and forced to travel long hours and wait months just to receive routine procedures. Some even testified that VA employees will let their phones ring for hours before doing their job. This all begs the question: Why should America’s veterans be forced to stay trapped in this failed government program?

As the hearing went on, both Members of Congress and veteran witnesses acknowledged that the problem has worsened to the point that we have to ask if the VA is even worth saving. Many said that we should turn the spigot off and allow veterans the freedom to choose better options. According to Darin Selnick, Senior Policy Director at Concerned Veterans for America, 89% of veterans want the option of community care, stating that the real problem is that the “VA wants to control [veterans].”

One would logically think that the Democrats would want veterans to have the freedom that they signed up to fight for and defend. But that’s not how the political left thinks. The fact that VA funding is determined by the number of veterans in its system means that faceless bureaucrats are more concerned with maintaining their annual budgets than with actually helping veterans. It’s no wonder many describe the VA as a federal jobs program rather than a service for our veterans.

Thankfully, legislation has been introduced on Capitol Hill that can help alleviate these issues. Rep. Andy Biggs’ (R-Ariz.) Veteran Healthcare Freedom Act would remove barriers to free-market healthcare by allowing veterans to access primary, specialty, and mental care at non-VA facilities and outside of their corresponding Veterans Integrated Service Networks. This is important when considering that the VA only covers 38 percent of procedures that our veterans need.

President Trump’s bipartisan MISSION Act began to move the needle in the direction of community care, but since Joe Biden has taken office, he has made a point to preclude veterans from the healthcare freedom they deserve. This comes as no surprise, as Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) pointed out, since we’ve seen this butchering before in the private healthcare sector through “an alphabet soup of miserable government regulations that provide insurance-run healthcare for most Americans…because of government action.”

The VA has also prevented veterans from using their benefits to get access to alternative treatments for their PTSD diagnosis. Many veterans are trying to move away from pharmaceutical medication towards more holistic alternative treatments. For example, MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies) has sponsored studies that show that nearly 70 percent of veterans, despite having undergone psychedelic treatment for PTSD, still no longer qualify for a PTSD diagnosis. In 2015 there were 63,000 new PTSD cases. The total cost of PTSD treatment in the US amounts to $42.7 Billion annually. Assuming a 50-year post-PTSD lifespan, this could save the American taxpayers up to $1 trillion. The so-called “right to try” is an important policy solution for veterans seeking assistance for mental health related issues. 

Still, at the end of the day, the best way to make veterans’ lives easier is to stop big government from sending them overseas to fight in endless, nation-building wars in the first place. Here’s to praying that Joe Biden doesn’t continue to foolishly escalate the conflict in Ukraine and instead find a diplomatic solution. This is the only proper course of action for American veterans who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”