WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump donated his $100,000 salary for the first quarter of 2018 to the Department of Veterans Affairs, a gesture the White House said underscores his commitment to recognizing the sacrifices to military and their families.
Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said the money will be earmarked for caregiver support programs within his department, to include “mental health, peer support, financial aid, education and research” for those families.
“President Trump understands the critical role of caregivers in meeting the essential needs of America’s veterans,” he said.
The donation is the fifth made by Trump since he became president. Previously, he turned over his federal salary to the Department of Transportation for infrastructure repair, the National Park Service for battlefield preservation, the Department of Education for support programs and the Department of Health and Human Services for opioid management programs.
The White House announcement came one day after House lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a $52 billion legislative package on veterans policy that includes an expansion of the VA’s caregiver stipend program to veterans of older generations. Currently, the support payouts are only open to caregivers of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars era.
The Senate is expected to take up the legislation in coming days. Wilkie praised the House for their action and urged quick passage in the upper chamber.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the president’s donation is in keeping with a pair of campaign promises by Trump: to give his federal salary to “important projects” within the government, and to help highlight and improve care for veterans.
“These brave men and women deserve our absolute best, which is why the president is fighting for reform and accountability at the VA,” she said.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that under the legislation passed by the House Wednesday, more than 41,000 caregivers could be added to the program over the next five years, at a cost of nearly $7 billion.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.