Trump floats 'White House hotline' for vets
© Getty Images

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE, who has made improving conditions for veterans a major part of his campaign, on Monday explained some of his ideas, including proposing a "private White House hotline" veterans could call.

Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, said during a speech in Virginia Beach, Va., that the line would be operated 24/7 "to ensure that no valid complaint about the VA and its wrongdoing falls through the cracks."


"I will instruct my staff that if a valid complaint is not addressed that the issue be brought directly to me, and I will pick up the phone and fix it myself if I have to," Trump said. "Believe me, I will fix it."

The idea was among 10 steps Trump said he would take as president to respond to long wait times and poor service, which Republicans have blasted as major faults of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

"The VA is not sacred, the veteran is sacred," Trump said, alluding to a remark from Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs who spoke at Trump's event.

Miller argued issues with the VA are not attributed to a lack of money, resources or manpower and that the department "lurches back and forth every single day from scandal to scandal."

Trump's speech Monday in a hotel ballroom was not far from the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va., where he outlined his plan last October to reform the VA.

Trump said this week he'd appoint a new VA secretary who wasn't a "political hack" and whose "sole mandate" would be focused on veterans.

He called for those employees who put veterans at risk to be fired and said dedicated employees should be put in line for promotions. Those who identify wasteful spending will be given a small, one-time bonus, Trump said.

A central part of Trump's plan relies on allowing veterans to get service from a VA hospital or from a private healthcare facility, both funded by the government. He called for increasing the number of healthcare professionals and facilities, as well as the outreach effort to veterans, along with a focus on mental illness.

"We need to clean out the corruption in government, and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Clinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views on misinformation Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee MORE will never be able to do it," Trump said, labeling the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee the "secretary of the status quo."

Clinton allies pushed back on Trump ahead of his speech Monday, with a pair of Iraq War veterans dismissing Trump's proposal to include private sector options as misguided or not serious.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said that while there's "no doubt" the VA needs to be fixed, the idea of privatizing it is "ridiculous." Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) similarly said the idea that simply privatizing the system will make it better is inaccurate.

"Secretary Clinton has real plans, and Trump only has talking points," Moulton said.