Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley says members of Congress should be required to get their health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), saying that would prompt lawmakers to fix a broken system.
“My way of fixing this is I think every member of Congress should have to get their health care from the VA,” Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, said at a CNN town hall event in Iowa on June 4.
“I’m telling you, Jake, that would fix it right away because no one else would put up with what these veterans are having to put up with,” she told moderator and CNN anchor Jake Tapper. “And they deserve better than what they’re getting.”
Haley lamented the state of the VA, citing that, on average, it takes veterans 29 days to get an appointment at the VA, which in turn reschedules with patients on the 29th day in order to reset the clock as, starting on the 30th day, veterans can go wherever they want to get health care.
Haley also criticized both the lack of telehealth to provide mental health services and addiction centers.
“The fact that we’re treating our best in this way is a travesty,” she said, referring to veterans.
Meanwhile, about 33,000 veterans are homeless, according to the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition, “at some point in their life, 7 out of every 100 veterans (or 7 percent) will have PTSD,” the VA says.
Also, as of 2020, an average of about 17 veterans take their own lives every day, according to the VA.
Haley says her husband, Michael, a major in the South Carolina Army National Guard, is set to deploy to Africa soon for a year.
“It’s not our first rodeo. He did this when I was governor.” She joked that “he seems to find really interesting times [to be deployed].”
“Deployments are never convenient,” she added. “But they’re necessary.”
Haley said it’s a blessing that the United States has military personnel to defend the country, and she offered a message to military spouses who are dealing with the deployment of their significant others.
“We can do this.”
The Haley town hall, which covered topics ranging from abortion to the Russia–Ukraine war, provided a contrast from the network’s contentious town hall with former President Donald Trump last month.