Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is catching flak for her recent comments on the Department of Veterans Affairs, suggesting that the VA was not broken.
The freshman congresswoman said at a town hall in New York City last week about the VA: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“The idea that this thing that isn’t broken, this thing that provides the highest quality care to our veterans somehow needs to be fixed, optimized, tinkered with until you don’t even recognize it anymore,” she added.
Her comments that the VA was not broken contrasted with reports of veterans taking their lives in the parking lots of the VA after receiving inadequate care.
Nineteen veterans killed themselves at VA facilities between October 2017 and November 2018, according to the Washington Post.
Former Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill, who famously killed Osama bin Laden, blasted the 29-year-old congresswoman’s comments.
“Ever take your kid to work, let ’em color and tell ’em they’re helping? New York did,” he tweeted.
Sean Parnell, a retired Army Ranger and author, tweeted that Ocasio-Cortez and every politician should have to get their healthcare from the VA.
“All the healthcare issues that veterans face today…calcified bureaucracy, secret wait lists, minimal continuity of care…would be fixed in a week if they did,” he tweeted.
The VA was engulfed in scandal in 2014, after CNN first revealed that VA employees were systematically hiding months-long wait times for patients, including for some who died while waiting for care. Then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over the scandal.
ABC’s The View host Abby Huntsman, whose brother serves in the military, also scolded Ocasio-Cortez.
“She should spend a little less time clapping back on Twitter and a little more time talking to veterans and families of vets who are no longer here because of VA dysfunction,” Huntsman tweeted.
Veteran Joe Biggs slammed Ocasio-Cortez in a video response detailing the obstacles veterans face:
What they do is drug, drug, drug, drug, drug, drug, drug, drug, drug, drug. They never get to the root of the problem. And most of us don’t even live near one of these major facilities. Some of us only live near a very small clinic that’s only able to do certain things, and you have to travel hours on end, which means you’ve got to cancel work, you have to find someone to watch your kids, it takes your entire day away.
And then if by chance you miss your appointment, you get a letter in the mail threatening that you’ll lose your benefits if you miss another one. Now, when you do finally get there, you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to prescribe you medication and then send you off. So you drove an hour-and-a-half for no reason, because they don’t even care about getting to the root of the problem. They don’t care about why you wake up wanting to put a gun in your mouth. They don’t care about anything like that.
“We have veterans literally lighting themselves on fire in the parking lot as a signal for help, and yet nothing gets done,” Biggs added
Ocasio-Cortez also alleged in her remarks that some were trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies, insurance corporations, and the for-profit healthcare industry:
Here’s the thing, they are trying to fix it, but who are they trying to fix it for is the question we’ve got to ask,” she continued. “They’re trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies, they’re trying to fix the VA for insurance corporations, and ultimately they’re trying to fix the VA for a for-profit healthcare industry that does not put people or veterans first.
“We have a responsibility to protect it, because if it is any community that deserves Cadillac first-class health care in the United States of America it is our military service members,” she said.
Fox News host and veteran Pete Hegseth said she was “another hack politician echoing what government unions wanted her to say.”
Ocasio-Cortez also claimed last week after her remarks that the VA was being starved.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), a retired Green Beret, responded to her that the VA budget has actually doubled from $90 billion to $200 billion over the last ten years.
“When my Green Berets are not receiving the care they deserve, they should not have to drive past dozens of qualified providers to a govt run facility. Best thing you can give vets…choice!” he tweeted.