State of the Union: President Trump honors Veterans, addresses VA reforms


shadow

President Trump’s second State of the Union address was his platform to introduce the “agenda of the American People.” For more than an hour and 20 minutes the president challenged Americans to choose greatness, paid homage to crucial moments in our country’s history and expressed his continued commitment to improving VA for our Veterans.

“This year, America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of Americas mission, and the power of American pride,” said Trump.

The president first honored D-Day Veterans Pfc. Joseph Reilly, Staff Sgt. Irving Locker, and Sgt. Herman Zeitchik. The special guests, who fought to liberate Europe 75 years ago during World War II, were greeted by a standing ovation. Buzz Aldrin, an Air Force Veteran, Apollo 11 crew member and one of the first men to walk on the moon, was also honored by the president.


State of the Union

President Trump recognizes D-Day Veterans Pfc. Joseph Reilly, Staff Sgt. Irving Locker, and Sgt. Herman Zeitchik during State of the Union Address.


“In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, redefined the middle class, and when you get down to it – there’s nothing anywhere in the world that can compete with America,” said the President. “Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure.”


Portraits of Veterans attending State of the Union as special guests

Images courtesy of the White House


President Trump also highlighted the bipartisan nature of VA reform and how – after decades of trying to address issues – improvements were finally made to the transparency and accountability of the department.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie’s statement on the State of the Union address later echoed the president’s remarks.

“VA is giving Veterans more choice in their health care decisions with the historic MISSION Act and improving transparency by becoming the first hospital system in the nation to post publicly wait times, opioid prescription rates, accountability, settlements, and chief executive travel,” said Wilkie. “The department is also increasing accountability and protecting whistleblowers with the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, and overhauling the disability claims and appeals processes to create a simplified system for filing to provide Veterans with clear choices and timely decisions.”



In addition to transparency and accountability, VA has also improved our Veterans’ overall experience. As Secretary Wilkie’s top priority, customer service has become the driving force behind innovative practices that place Veterans ahead of bureaucracy.

Examples of positive transformations in the department are:


Watch the 2019 State of the Union address in its entirety below.

Author

Reynaldo Leal

– Reynaldo Leal is a public affairs officer for VA’s office of Digital Media Engagement and member for the VAntage Point’s staff. He is a proud Marine Corps Veteran who deployed to the Al Anbar Province with 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment in 2004 and 2006. He also took part in some of the heaviest fighting during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004.