An Ohio congressman has come under fire from veterans groups after making claims that veterans are abusing the VA healthcare system.
“Just like workers comp out here’s got moochers, I wish that there were no vets that were the same sort of problem on our society,” said Rep. Warren Davidson last week during the Concerned Veterans for America’s “Veterans and Military Town Hall” event.
“Part of the problem is there are some vets that are moochers and they’re clogging up the system,” he said. “And we do as taxpayers want to make sure the VA filters out these folks that are pretenders.”
GOP chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Jeff Miller, found Davidson’s statements to be out of line.
“I can only hope that Rep. Davidson misspoke, and I look forward to him clarifying his remarks,” said Rep. Miller, R-Fla.
Davidson, an Army veteran himself, defended his statements after being asked for further clarification.
“As a veteran, I know the subpar care that many of my brothers and sisters in arms have received, and I will not be content until that is changed,” he said in a statement. “Any effort to suggest I have anything other than a soldier’s passion for providing our veterans with the care they deserve is dishonest.”
In Davidson’s defense, his spokesman, Alexei Woltornist, offered four instances in 2016 of fraud relating to VA benefits.
One of the examples Wolornist offered was a case where a 73-year-old Massachusetts man took his neighbors’ VA benefit checks after she died. Another example was a Texas man who posed as a disabled veteran to make himself eligible for VA contracts given to small businesses run by veterans, according to Cincinnati.com.
While these are examples of fraud, they do not fit Davidson’s narrative of veterans “mooching” off the system.
Only one of the examples related to VA healthcare but it still did not involve an actual veteran. It referred to a California man who falsely claimed to be a Marine Corps veteran to obtain health care benefits through the VA.
Steve Fought, a Democrat running against Davidson in Ohio’s 8th congressional district, said Davidson “is the first congressman ever to blame the shortcomings of the VA health care system on the veterans themselves.”
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