(CNSNews.com) - President Donald Trump is donating his 2018 first quarterly salary to the Department of Veterans Affairs in support of their caregiver programs, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday.
Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie was on hand at the White House press briefing.
“And Sarah, I want to thank you for the announcement. I want to thank you for President Trump's generosity. The president's gift underscores his promise to do all that he can for veterans, which includes supporting those who care for our veterans -- not just those of us at VA, but the husbands, the wives, the families, and the community caregivers who are out there day in and day out making life easier for those who have borne the battle,” he said.
“President Trump understands the critical role of caregivers in meeting the essential needs of America's veterans. So we have already earmarked this gift for caregiver support in the form of mental health and peer support programs, financial aid, education training, and research. I am deeply grateful to President Trump for providing me the opportunity to serve America's veterans and for his generosity in supporting them,” Wilkie added.
Before addressing the president’s gift, Wilkie talked about the House’s passage of the VA MISSION Act, which stands for VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks. The measure cleared the House by a vote of 347 to 70.
“This is long-awaited legislation that our veterans have been waiting in anticipation of. This takes seven community care programs that we have been using for the last 15 to 20 years and condenses them into one. It also makes it much easier for our veterans to obtain care that they need at the moment that they need it, in homes and in facilities closest to where they live,” he said of the bill.
“This also opens up the Caregiver Program to long-waiting communities within our veterans' world -- those veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War who have not had access to a community caregiver program that was opened up for those who have served in the military since 9/11. So with this strong bipartisan support, we urge the Senate to take up the House bill and give it to President Trump, hopefully before Memorial Day,” Wilkie said.
“But I also want to single out the major veteran service organizations. Thirty-eight of them signed a letter in support of this legislation to the House and Senate leadership. Their people have been walking the halls of the Congress for the last week. They will be in the Senate next week, and we can't thank them enough for their support for our nation's 20 million veterans,” he said.
According to Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the VA MISSION Act keeps the promise to the give veterans more choice in their health care and builds on the “strong investment in VA’s internal capacity.”
“Additionally, the legislation includes funding for the Choice Program to ensure veterans have continuity of care during the transition to the new, easier-to-use community care program established under the VA MISSION Act. This bill also paves the way for a non-partisan and comprehensive review of the department’s assets,” Roe said in a statement.
“This review was a recommendation put forward by the bipartisan Commission on Care and will ensure VA has the resources needed to serve our nation’s heroes for years to come. Finally, the bill expands VA’s post-9/11 caregiver program to veterans of all eras, providing equity for all generations of veterans and their caregivers,” Roe added.