Newton, Iowa, Nov. 20 – Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said, “I will” when asked if he is committed to getting more veterans and people with disabilities employed.
“You gotta give them hope, build their spirit,” Trump said during a town hall Thursday night in Newton, IA. “The unemployment numbers don’t tell the whole story.”
More than 80 percent of people with disabilities are not employed, according to the U.S Department of Labor. Though the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains listed at 10.5 percent, as it does not count those who have given up looking for work. Nearly 60 percent of people without disabilities are employed, with the unemployment rate currently at 4.6 percent for people without disabilities.
Trump has provided some specifics on how he would help veterans and people with disabilities who are not employed. According to his campaign website, Trump’s plan to reform the Veterans Administration includes increasing funding for job training and placement services (including incentives for companies hiring veterans), educational support and business loans.
Answering a question by a veteran on healthcare, Trump claimed he’s “been the strongest by far toward the veterans.”
“Our veterans are being treated in many cases worse than the illegal immigrants that are coming in,” Trump said during the WHO-TV sponsored town hall. “The waiting time in a reception room for a doctor now is the longest in the history of the Veterans’ Administration. People are waiting five or six days. Can you imagine you or me or anybody waiting five or six days to see a doctor?”
Trump detailed his plan that if a veteran visits a VA and is told he has more than a day’s wait, he can go to a public or private doctor or hospital nearby.
“If you go to the doctor’s office and you have a day wait, you can’t get service, then you’re going to go to a private doctor, or you’re gooing to go to a hospital nearby – public or private. You’re going to get yourself taken care of and we’re going to pay the bill,” Trump said, claiming this plan would be cheaper than what’s currently happening.
“Tens of thousands of veterans are dying waiting for a doctor – on things that could be cured with a pill, with a minor procedure,” Trump continued. “We’re going to take care of that. We’re gonna make the vets proud again to be an American.”
Trump’s written plan also acknowledges veteran’s “invisible wounds” by increasing funding for post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and suicide prevention.
“This funding will help provide more and better counseling and care,” Trump’s plan states. “With these steps, the Trump plan will help the veteran community put the unnecessary stigma surrounding mental health behind them and instead encourage acceptance and treatment in our greater society.”
Trump himself has helped perpetuate the negative stigmas surrounding mental health and intellectual disabilities by using the words “loser” and “stupid” interchangeably, despite the fact that many people with intellectual disabilities are “winners” for employers and in other ways.
Studies show that negative attitudes toward people with disabilities are major barriers to competitive and integrated employment, which is the desired outcome for the majority of working-age people with disabilities.
More than 50 percent of Americans report having a family member or close friend with a disability. Fifty-two percent of Democrats report that they or a loved one have a disability, and for Republicans, a smaller number of 44 percent report they have a disability. Surprisingly, Independents have the largest number of voters who say they have a disability, with 58 percent saying yes. This shows that swing voters with disabilities and their families are up for grabs.