Military and Veterans

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Before Donald Trump was sworn in as President, the US military morale was reportedly at 'rock bottom' as 52% of soldiers across all branches were "pessimistic about their future in the military." Top military leaders complained about Obama's micromanagement. In addition the military size had histrocially and  significantly  decreased and the budget sequestration in 2013 cut approximately $85.4 billion during fiscal 2013 with similar cuts for years 2014 until 2021. The US Veterans Affairs was mired in scandals which included too many military veterans dying while waiting for medical care. So what has President Trump done so far to change the course as he promised? 

*UPDATE: President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill which included nearly $700 billion for the military and $591 billion for non-defense funding. The military also got the largest pay raise in 10 years. Veteran unemployment rate hit an all-time low  and  some 4,300 Veterans Affairs (VA) workers have been demoted, fired, or suspended  for neglecting military veterans.

1/27/17:  President Trump signed executive order titled "The rebuilding of the United States Armed Forces". One will "begin a great rebuilding of the armed services," while the other covered entry of foreigners into the US. "To ensure the sacrifices of our military are supported by the actions of our government," Trump said. The executive action called for new planes, ships and tools for the military. "As we prepare our budget request for Congress... our military strength will be questioned by no one, but neither will our dedication to peace, we do want peace," Trump said. We give President Trump a B here. Astonishingly, for the first time since World War II there are no American aircraft carriers deployed at sea anywhere else in the world. And the army has the fewest active-duty soldiers since 1940, despite a host of worldwide threats facing the United States. That is a scary thought. However with new technology focusing more on drones, does America need to build up it's military as much as it was in the past?

4/19/17: President Trump took one of his first steps to address chronic problems in the Department of Veterans Affairs by signing a bill that extends services for veterans to go outside the VA medical system for care. 

5/18/18: President Trump pledged to donate his presidential first quarter 2018 paycheck to the Office of Veterans Affairs.  

6/1/17: President Trump's long-promised hotline for veteran complaints officially launches. The phone line — live now at 855-948-2311 — is designed to "collect, process and respond to the complaints of individual veterans in a responsive, timely and accountable manner," according to Department of Veterans Affairs officials.  

6/2/17: Trump approved a billed called "American Law Enforcement Heroes Act of 2017" giving priority for federal grants to those federal and state law enforcement agencies that hire and train veterans. 

6/7/18: Trump signed legislation paving the way for a major overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs and expanded access for veterans to VA-funded care in the private sector.  

6/20/18: Steaks and other perishable food from the White House’s canceled congressional picnic have been donated to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. President Donald Trump canceled the picnic to focus on the immigration debate. 

6/23/17: Donald Trump signed a law creating accountability at Department of Veterans Affairs. The billed dubbed "Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act" was passed by Congress on 6/13/17. The approved legislation makes it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees for misconduct while better protecting staffers who bring wrongdoing to light.  

8/5/17: President Donald Trump celebrated improvements to the mobile system veterans can use to access health care, touting an "historic breakthrough" in Department of Veterans Affairs technology that makes it easier for patients to schedule and receive care remotely.

​​8/17/17: President Donald Trump signed into law an updated veterans' education bill that marks the largest expansion of college assistance for military veterans in a decade.

10/1/17: Trump signed an executive order giving the U.S. military a 2.1% pay raise, the largest increase since 2010

​10/21/17: Trump signed an executive order giving the Airforce more leverage as it attempts to combat the growing pilot shortage in its ranks. The Air Force now has the option to return through voluntary programs as many as 1,000 retired pilots to active-duty service.

11/6/17: President Trump asked Congress for another $5.9 billion for the military as he continued an Asia trip aimed at countering what he called the "North Korean menace". Trump asked to amend an earlier 2018 defense budget request by allocating an additional $4 billion for missile defense, $1.2 billion for the administration’s new Afghanistan effort and another $700 million for Navy ship repairs. The new missile defense funding will address an increasing threat from North Korea, Trump said.

​11/12/17: For the first time in history the U.S. military breaks ground for new permanent base in Israel. The new U.S. base marks the first to be co-located within an Israeli base and the first in which active interceptors are to be deployed.​

12/12/17: President Donald Trump signed into law a sweeping defense policy bill that authorizes a $700 billion budget for the military, including additional spending on missile defense programs.

​1/1/18: Donald Trump’s first year set a record for use of special operations forces elite commandos deployed to 149 countries in 2017.

1/9/18: President Trump signed an executive order to increase access to mental care for recently discharged service members. The move will expand mental-health care for transitioning veterans as they leave the military, an effort to reduce suicides in a group that is considered particularly at risk.

2/2/18: The Pentagon released a new nuclear arms policy that calls for the introduction of two new types of weapons, effectively ending Obama-era efforts to reduce the size and scope of the U.S. arsenal and minimize the role of nuclear weapons in defense planning. 

2/9/18: Trump signed a $400 billion spending bill into law allowing the massive increases in military spending that he campaigned on. Trump stated "Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more." 

3/10/18: President Trump announced the planning of a military parade (similiar to the one held in 1991) to honor the US military men and women. The military parade is planned for Veterans Day - without tanks. 

​3/24/18: President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill which included funding for the military. The Navy got 14 new ships, including a carrier; the Air Force added 56 F-35s; the Army gots 17 Apache and 11 Lakota helicopters; the Marine Corps received 24 vertical landing F-35Bs; and the Coast Guard gets a long-needed icebreaker. It also included the largest military pay raise in 10 years.

5/9/18: The President signed an executive order aimed at increasing opportunities for military spouses to obtain federal jobs and encouraging agencies to increase their use of the noncompetitive hiring authority for military spouses.

5/26/18: President Trump gave a speech to the graduates of the Naval Academy. Then, the president went a step further, offering to shake the hands of every single graduate — more than 1,000 midshipmen. He shook hands for 90 minutes straight. “I was given an option. I could make this commencement address, which is a great honor for me, and immediately leave and wave goodbye. Or I could stay and shake hands with just the top 100,” Trump said, “Or I could stay for hours and shake hands with 1,100 and something. What should I do? What should I do?”

​5/27/18: The Dept of Defense announced a new policy. Families of military service members who die overseas in non-combat incidents will now be able to have their travel expenses to Dover Air Force Base covered so they can receive their loved ones when they return. It will lessen the financial burden for more families attending dignified transfer ceremonies at Dover, the military's largest mortuary facility.

6/15/18: President Trump has negotiated with North Korea to begin delivering the remains of U.S. soldiers from the Korean War back home to America.

8/15/18: President Trump signs the John McCain National Defense Authorization Act (a $716 billion defense policy) for the Fiscal Year 2019.   It will boost military pay by 2.6%, giving service members their largest increase in nine years. The bill—formally the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act but referred to by Trump as simply the National Defense Authorization Act—will introduce thousands of new recruits to active duty, reserve, and National Guard units and replace aging tanks, planes, ships, and helicopters with more advanced and lethal technology.

10/2/18:  The unemployment rate for veterans approached a record low in October.

11/8/18: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it will be moving nearly 430 medical professionals from taxpayer-funded union work back to health care jobs serving Veterans.

11/27/18:  Some 4,300 Veterans Affairs (VA) workers have been demoted, fired, or suspended for neglecting veterans since President Donald Trump took office.

12/22/18: President Trump ordered a rapid withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Syria. The U.S. immediately began moving a handful of personnel from Syria and will quickly extract about 2,000 forces over the next few weeks.

12/26/18: President Trump and first lady Melania Trump appeared in Iraq for a surprise visit with troops and senior military leadership at Al Asad Air Base. It was the President's first visit to a combat zone. The trip took several weeks to plan.

12/26/18:  Trump made his second unannounced visit to U.S. troops abroad. On his way back from meeting troops in Iraq, Trump stopped at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany for refueling and met with service members there.

12/30/18: A new poll shows 56% of veterans — both current and former service members — said they approve of the job Trump is doing as president.

1/15/19:  US veteran unemployment rate hits all-time low in 2018

3/5/19: Trump signs executive order called  “National Initiative to Empower Veterans and End Veterans Suicide”  to combat veteran suicide.

3/5/19:  President Trump signed an executive order that helps active-duty military and sea veterans transition into the Merchant Marine, which handles cargo and passenger shipping but can be called upon in wartime for sealift operations. 

3/25/19:  Trump ends an Obama-era requirement that the U.S. government publish an annual report on the number of people killed in drone strikes or other counterterrorism operations outside of war zones.  The order says the director of national intelligence must no longer issue “an unclassified summary of the number of strikes undertaken by the United States government against terrorist targets outside areas of active hostilities, as well as assessments of combatant and non-combatant deaths resulting from those strikes, among other information.” 

4/4/19: The U.S. revoked the visa of an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor as part of the Trump administration’s effort to rebuke the tribunal’s investigation into alleged war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.  "We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,"  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

4/5/19:  Within the next 15 years, the Navy plans to add as many as 30 DDG 51 Destroyers, including 22 new, high-tech DDG 51 Flight III warships and eight state-of-the-art DDG 51 Flight IIA destroyers.