Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called the current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs “absolutely unacceptable” and vowed to change it if he were elected president.
Speaking at a campaign event in Norfolk, Virginia, on Oct. 31, Trump told supporters that he would take on the “corrupt” and “incompetent” department, according to Fox News.
“We're going to replace them with more effective ones to get our veterans working, which is what they want to do,” Trump told the crowd standing in front of the U.S.S. Wisconsin. “We're going to transform the VA to meet the needs of the current veterans. Exposing and addressing the VA's inefficiencies and shortcomings will be rewarded, not punished. We're going to find out why it's going bad and we're going to fix it.”
Following the event, Trump’s campaign released a detailed plan to overhaul the recently-embattled department.
Among the plan’s highlights is the ability for veterans to get care at more facilities.
“All veterans eligible for VA healthcare can bring their veteran's ID cards to any doctor or care facility that accepts Medicare to get the care they need immediately," Trump said, according to NBC News.
It also acknowledges the growing number of women serving in the military, calling female service members the “new generation of veterans.”
“The fact that many VA hospitals don't permanently staff OBGYN doctors shows an utter lack of respect for the growing number of female veterans,” the plan reads. “Under the Trump plan, every VA hospital in the country will be fully equipped with OBGYN and other women's health services.”
The plan also included an increase in funding for PTSD and suicide prevention services, more money for job training, and incentives for companies that hire veterans.
The detailed plan comes as Trump continues to struggle in the polls. Already slipping in Iowa polls, Trump was also edged out in at least one national poll at the end of October.
The CBS News-New York Times poll, released Oct. 27, had former neurosurgeon Ben Carson leading Trump 26 percent to 22 percent nationally, according to ABC News. The lead was within the poll’s margin of error, but it showed Trump had slipped 5 percentage points in two weeks, while Carson had picked up the same amount.
Trump seemed to acknowledge Carson’s surge during his speech on Oct. 31, saying that fixing the VA would require managerial skills that Carson doesn’t have.
“It's time we have to say it,” he said. “I like Ben Carson. But there's no way he can fix this, folks.”