Veterans Get Cold Shoulder As VA Treats Illegal Migrants

With hundreds of thousands of veterans’ healthcare claims languishing in backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the agency whose mission is to serve those who have defended the nation is being hammered over its role in processing healthcare claims for illegal migrants under the direction of the Biden administration.

A recent report from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reveals a staggering $63.6 million spent in fiscal year 2022 on healthcare claims for illegal immigrants. This expenditure, facilitated by a long-standing arrangement between the VA and ICE, is gravely concerning, especially when considered in light of the distressing backlog of legitimate American veterans’ claims.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) recently reported that the VA backlog in processing care for actual veterans exceeds 300,000. That staggering number is likely to swell to more than 400,000 in the near future due to inefficient processing of the healthcare benefits mandated by Congress for former U.S. service members.

The VA’s involvement in processing health care benefits for illegal non-citizens is not new. According to Fox News, a 2020 memo from the Trump administration outlined the arrangement. At that time the VA indicated that it does not directly provide or fund healthcare services for ICE detainees. Rather, it said it processes reimbursements through its Financial Service Center (VA-FSC), a function it had performed since 2002.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has expressed the sentiments felt by Americans who support our service members. He has introduced legislation that would completely halt the use of VA resources for all non-veterans, and especially illegal aliens.

At the heart of this debate is the question of priority. The VA, established to serve those who have served the nation, finds itself in a delicate balancing act. On one side is its commitment to veterans, many of whom await timely healthcare services. On the other is an inter-agency agreement stretching back decades, facilitating healthcare claims processing for a different group entirely.

Critics argue that every dollar and minute spent on non-veteran care is a disservice to those who have donned the uniform. Russ Duerstine of CVA encapsulates this viewpoint, emphasizing that the issue is less about who receives the care and more about who is not. It’s a sentiment shared by veterans and advocates alike, who see the VA’s role in migrant healthcare as a deviation from its core mission.

Adding complexity to the situation are the ongoing challenges within the VA itself. Staffing shortages, burnout, and backlogs in legitimate veteran claims processing are persistent issues that undermine the agency’s ability to deliver on its obligations to America’s warriors.

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