Trump touts veterans affairs modernization efforts

President: 'The fact is, I've done a lot'

By CNN'S ZACHARY COHEN AND LIZ STARK CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.
Copyright 2018 CNN

(CNN) - President Donald Trump touted his administration's efforts to modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs during a White House event Thursday afternoon but offered no new policies.

"The fact is, I've done a lot. I could -- goodbye! Goodbye everybody!" Trump said jokingly, waving as if he were about to exit. "That's a lot. That is a lot. That's more than anyone has ever even thought about. And I'm proud of it."

"And we're not finished yet. That's why I figured, I did so much I could leave now," he continued. "But we're not finished. We never will be finished."

In his prepared remarks, the President noted his Armistice Day and Veterans Day observances in France.

"Earlier this week our nation celebrated Veterans Day and we also marked the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. It was a beautiful, beautiful and important day," Trump said.

"On Sunday, I had the immense privilege of visiting Suresnes cemetery in France to pay tribute to the brave Americans who laid down their lives for our nation one century ago. One hundred years. We will never forget what these heroes did to win ... and to secure peace," he said.

Trump was criticized for missing a planned visit to an American cemetery and memorial due to adverse weather while in France and did not hold any public events to honor veterans in Washington on Monday, when the holiday was observed.

Trump also cited the expansion of the GI bill as a point of success Thursday.

"(A) crucial element to our veterans agenda is improved access to education. Last year I signed legislation to allow every veteran to use their GI bill education benefits at any point in their lives," he added.

Trump's comments come as the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs plans to hold a review later Thursday afternoon over GI bill payment delays potentially affecting thousands of veterans.

An aide working for the committee confirmed to CNN that the Department of Veterans Affairs has severely struggled to process GI bill payments and housing stipends in recent months and that Robert Worley, executive director of Education Service of the Veterans Benefits Administration, was reassigned over the matter. NBC News first reported on the payment process and Worley's reassignment.

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