Veterans Pushed Aside While Illegal Immigrants Get Medical Treatment

From Betsy Combier: We can do better. We must do better.

VA ripped for helping pay migrant treatment as over 400K veterans, their families wait

The Department of Veterans Affairs is facing blowback for helping pay out millions of dollars to medical providers who treat illegal immigrants while they are in federal custody — while a backlog of hundreds of thousands of claims from veterans has grown.

The VA’s Austin, Texas-based Financial Services Center (FSC) has been contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since 2002 to process reimbursement claims by providers who offer services to detained migrants.

In fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30 of that year, FSC processed 161,538 such claims, with the ICE Health Services Corps (IHSC) paying out an average of $584 — a total of $94.3 million in taxpayer money, according to a July 2023 Department of Homeland Security report on “Healthcare Costs for Noncitizens in Detention.”

In the previous fiscal year, 2021, ICE’s health care arm budgeted more than $74 million for the VA’s FSC to assist with “outside referral care” and “medical claims processing,” according to a report from July 2022.

Meanwhile, the pile of benefit claims by veterans and their families awaiting adjudication has grown to 417,855, according to the VA’s own website — up from around 150,000 as of late 2022.

When contacted by The Post, the VA was adamant that the veteran claims backlog and the millions of dollars doled out to migrant health care providers were not related.

“VA does not provide or fund any health care to ICE detainees,” VA spokesman Terrence Hayes told The Post.

“This involves no more than 10 employees and is fully funded by ICE. This has no impact [on] veteran care or services,” Hayes added. “At no time are any VA health care professionals or VA funds used for this purpose.”

‘Should shock American taxpayers’

A handful of Republican lawmakers ripped the VA for working with ICE to pay for medical treatment of people who they say shouldn’t be in the US at all.

“I am a disabled veteran and get 100% of my health care through the Veterans’ Affairs system,” Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.), a retired Navy SEAL who sits on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, told The Post.

“It is incredibly insulting to our veterans who risked our lives defending this nation, and it should shock the American taxpayers that the Biden administration is using VA resources to provide health care to illegal aliens,” he vented.

Van Orden added that the VA’s work with ICE is “despicable and needs to be stopped immediately,” while noting that “many veterans have to travel hours and wait weeks to be seen at a VA facility.”

The office of Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) accused the Biden administration of “playing word games.”

“They can’t deny that they’re using Community Care Network providers for illegals. By definition, that means worse options for our veterans,” a spokesperson for the senator told The Post, referring to non-VA practitioners who offer services to veterans such as urgent care, surgeries and dialysis.

“The program thrived under President Trump, but President Biden is now actively pulling back community care options for our heroes. This giveaway to illegals is a slap in the face to our veterans and it’s a slap in the face to the taxpayer.”

Last month, Tuberville and Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, unveiled legislation that would have barred the VA from “using its resources to provide health care or engage in claims processing for illegal migrants.”

“Biden’s bureaucratic backlog at the VA built up as they took bubble baths on the taxpayer’s dime. Not another second — or dollar meant for veterans — should be wasted to Band-Aid Biden’s border crisis,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told The Post.

“No calls from anyone who has served our country should go unanswered, but the Biden administration has made its priorities clear by wasting valuable VA resources to process illegal immigrants. Our veterans deserve better,” added Ernst, an Army veteran who, like Tuberville, sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

‘Outright disgrace’

Other renowned veterans expressed similar outrage.

Mark Geist, a former Marine who was part of the annex security team that fought in Benghazi back in 2012, recalled how he founded the Shadow Warriors Project to “address critical gaps” in veterans’ care.

“To find out that the Biden administration is reallocating funds from the VA and giving them to illegal immigrants, who did not serve this country, is not just a disappointment; it’s an outright disgrace,” he said.

“As a Marine, I’m frustrated, it’s a blatant betrayal to those who sacrificed for this country.”

Another ex-Marine, Chad Robichaux, who helped lead one of the largest civilian evacuation efforts from Afghanistan and founded the Mighty Oaks Foundation, a veterans support organization, bemoaned the VA backlog while veteran suicide rates hover at all-time highs.

“To see millions of taxpayer dollars taken from our veterans to instead incentivize and care for an invasion of illegal aliens is a giant slap in the face to America and to the military community,” he said.

“Every time we think this administration has reached a grotesque low, they dig deeper.”

Kate Monroe, also a Marine veteran and the CEO of, which provides disability benefits claim services for veterans, railed against the VA’s work with ICE.

“Not only are veterans pushed down the chain behind migrants at the VA, they are also being made homeless because the VA HUD VASH program was allocated to migrants as well,” she complained.

“Never should a veteran be deprioritized for anyone, let alone a non-citizen who entered our country illegally,” she added. “It is disheartening to witness VA resources stretched to assist non-Americans when those who risked their lives for this nation are already suffering.”

Last month, the advocacy group Concerned Veterans for America eviscerated the VA policy and implored Congress to enact legislation barring the department from its contract with ICE.

“The VA was created to serve the veteran, the brave men and women who served and sacrificed for our freedoms. Right now, under the Biden administration, the VA is failing our nation’s heroes,” the group said in a statement.

“Not one more veteran should lose their life waiting for care while the VA focuses on priorities outside of its core mission.”

During fiscal year 2023, the VA claims it provided more than 116 million appointments to veterans, shattering its previous record.

In response to the outcry, the department claimed to The Post that its goal remains “to deliver the best health outcomes to Veterans, whether that’s at VA or in the community through one of our partners.”

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