Disabled vet calls Donald Trump’s ‘veteran’s hotline’ a campaign stunt with no substance

FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop in Waterloo, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

After this Popular Military article was published, Thomas Fant, a disabled veteran reached out to us, to share his story about Trump’s Veterans Hotline.

Many of his opponents criticize Donald Trump for providing very little detail when it comes to actual policy proposals. His “idea” to send veterans to private doctors sounds a lot like the Veterans Choice Act. Trump talks about creating “a whole new system… where veterans will go to private hospitals and doctors,” to receive the best care in the world.

The Trump campaign’s announcement about the hotline came just five days after the Republican front-runner was severely criticized in the media for comments he made about Sen. John McCain’s war record.

During a speech in September aboard the USS Iowa Trump said, “We are coming out with some plans… to build up our military…  gonna make our military so big, so strong, so great… it will be so powerful that I don’t think we’re ever going to have to use it.”

Earlier this summer, when Trump started emphasizing veteran’s issues and, in particular, the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Fant says he “kept an open mind.”

Fant says his sister teases him relentlessly about Trump. As a child he was a huge fan of ‘The Donald’, and as a teenager, he says, he thought Trump was “the coolest.”

The native New Yorker, now 44 years old, has been trying for more than a year to get help from the VA for his knee problems. But like many others, has run into “long delays for treatment, bureaucratic mismanagement and scant access to care.”

So, when he had a chance to give Trump’s hotline a try he figured, “why not.”

Over the summer, Fant said he reached a woman at the hotline who “instructed me that the best thing to do was email or snail mail my concerns, preferably with documentation. There was a big emphasis on supplying documentation.”

He went ahead and submitted some information about his problems – mainly chronic dislocation from a knee injury he suffered while in the Coast Guard.  Fant says, his patella can slip out of place with just the slightest of movements, causing excruciatingly painful episodes.

After supplying the hotline “staff” with the requested information, Fant says he received what seemed like “canned” responses.

“Thank you for sharing your story,” one email read. Another statement read: “It is an embarrassment to America when our men and women who served have to struggle to get the care they earned and deserve. Mr. Trump is determined to fix the problems veterans face and your experience will be a part of the reform. Please know that fixing these problems is job one. Thank you for your service.”

Fant concluded the hotline was just a “campaign stunt without a lot of substance behind it.”

“He started this hotline and what was supposed to be a website to get vets help. That’s how it was pitched. But what it turned out to be was, “provide us with your stories and any sort of ideas you may have to improve things, and we’ll help,” Fant says.

He worries this hotline may cause more harm than good.  “If they’re promising to do something,” Fant says, “and saying, ‘hey send me your information, I’ve got a hotline,’ now all of the sudden you’re giving false hope to guys or women that may be counting on something to actually be done.”

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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