Why you’re probably wrong about McCain and Veteran Benefits
Look, there’s a lot of junk online — but now that the AZ Senate candidates have started advertising for their election, even more fake claims keep bubbling up. For one, there’s this rumor that McCain has abandoned vets and cut their benefits. It’s simply not true. As a 15-year member of our armed forces I’ve done a lot of research regarding the Arizona Senator.
Here are the facts:
I keep seeing links to articles where McCain voted for a bill to avoid a government shutdown, and that bill included recommendations to reduce the cost of living adjustment for vets. But, in reality McCain said he was absolutely against this part of the bill and vowed to repeal it once the government shutdown threat passed — and he KEPT HIS WORD. It never actually affected anybody AND the government didn’t shut down. Win/Win.
When McCain took charge of the Armed Services committee, he passed the NDAA bill that INCREASED the cost of living adjustment for retired vets. At the same time, he EXTENDED retirement benefits to more than 80 percent of service members who used to get absolutely nothing for their service. It also included pay raises and bonuses for troops. Simply put: McCain got troops MORE benefits and MORE money.
It’s not all about money, either.
In 2014 McCain passed the bills to overhaul the VA Health System and that gave people who live far from a VA facility the option to visit a private doctor nearby. You know this as the Choice Card. He also passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Act to improve mental health programs and attract more psychiatrists to the VA.
I understand that things aren’t perfect. The VA is still royally screwed up. But, Congress and McCain can only do so much. It’s time for the President and Department of Justice to hold VA employees accountable (remember, the VA is under the Executive Branch of government).
You can check these claims out. I listed sources below. McCain has consistently been fighting for veterans and fighting to fix the VA. And now as Chair of the Armed Services, he has a lot of clout in these matters. We need him in DC.
In fact, the cut in question was not a reduction in veterans benefits at all, but rather a cut in the pensions of military retirees. Further, the reduction was one part of a bipartisan budget deal that averted another government shutdown last December. And more important, Bustos was among the many House and Senatemembers of both parties who voted to repeal the cut a few weeks later…
The most significant result for troops is the renewal of dozens of specialty pay and bonus authorities, and a massive overhaul of the military retirement system.
Starting in 2018, newly enlisted troops will no longer have the traditional 20-year, all-or-nothing retirement plan. Under the changes, it will be replaced with a blended pension and investment system, featuring automatic contributions to troops’ Thrift Savings Plans and an opportunity for government matches to personal contributions.
The new system is expected to give roughly four in five service members some sort of retirement benefit when they leave the military, as opposed to the current system which benefits only one in five.
If you are already enrolled in VA health care, the Choice Program allows you to receive health care within your community. Using this program does NOT impact your existing VA health care, or any other VA benefit.
This bill will make important improvements to our existing suicide prevention programs; offer veterans more information about services available to them; provide incentives to attract top-rate psychiatrists to VA hospitals; and improve the exchange of training, best practices and other resources among the VA and nonprofit mental health care organizations.
Further, it would create a community outreach pilot program to help veterans transition from active duty service, and extend the ability for certain combat veterans to enroll in the Veterans Health Administration for one year.