Republican legislators are starting to suggest defunding the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the office founded in 1989 to assist with veteran needs. The VA assists with getting veterans mental and physical healthcare, educational opportunities, community support, and other everyday housing and living needs.
An Arizona legislator, captured on video participating in a mock congressional hearing, said he supported shutting down the department.
"That's sort of what I'm thinking because ... I hear no good stories. I had zero in my district," the legislator said in a video posted by the far-right watchdog group Patriot Takes. "So I guess it's a matter of us leading the fight to defund it."
A second video, posted by the same account, showed Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz advocating for defunding the VA while speaking at an event held by FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group.
"This is my question to the group. Is it savable? Why not abolish the VA, take all of the money that we are otherwise spending and go to an any willing provider system inside of our communities?" Gaetz says in the video. "And then, if people get bad care, they can vote with their feet and you don't have a two-tier system of healthcare in this country with our veterans and then with everyone else."
Generally speaking, Republican policies favor the privatization of all government functions, thinking that a "small government," "free-market," "for-profit" privatization provided by a corporation can solve any market ill.
In reality, if entire communities are deprived of VA access, U.S. military veterans will be left largely on their own to get their life needs met after militaries service. Those who lack money or transportation won't be able to "vote with their feet" and find a local care provider to handle their specific issues... they'll either have to spend massive amounts to get such essential care or just go without.
In late July, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a bill aimed at protecting veterans exposed to toxic materials during their military service. The legislation would have expanded care to 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. It would have also added 23 toxic and burn pit exposure-related illnesses to the VA database, Newsweek reported.
After massive blowback, Senate Republicans re-voted on the bill and helped it pass.
Patriot Takes posted the video hoping that it would encourage veterans and military members to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.