A directive signed Wednesday by President Donald Trump will wipe out hundreds of millions of dollars in federal student loan debt owed by tens of thousands of disabled military veterans.
Trump ordered the Department of Education to “eliminate every penny of federal student loan debt” owed by fully and permanently disabled American veterans.
Trump said they’re not going to have to pay federal income tax on the debt forgiven and also called on states to waive their loan payments.
America, he said, owes its heroes “a supreme debt of gratitude.”
Trump’s announcement at the Louisville AMVETS national convention brought a loud round of applause from the crowd of over 2,500 veterans. He signed the directive after addressing the meeting.
““To every veteran who is facing the struggle—I want you to know that you are not alone. We are with you, you are not forgotten… And you are not beaten. You will overcome, you will prevail, you will triumph, and you will thrive,” Trump said.
Only around 50,000 people with disabilities who are eligible for their federal student loan debt forgiven receive the benefit and the government blames a “burdensome” application process.
It leads the government to develop an accelerated process so that veterans can release their debt “with minimal burdens.”
Trump said the action will eradicate an average of $30,000 in debt owed by more than 25,000 eligible veterans, called them “incredible people,” who made “the ultimate sacrifice for our nation in many ways.”
“You have written our history, shaped our identity, forged our destiny, marched us to glory, and always planted the righteous flag of American victory,” Trump said.
Trump also highlighted steps taken by the administration to support the military, including increased spending and new equipment. He also discussed the commitment of the administration to veterans, including helping them access health care, reducing opioid addiction, and minimizing suicide among those who are no longer in uniform.
Trump said the administration is “determined to do everything in our power” to stop veterans suicide. About 20 veterans end their lives every day.
Trump has endorsed the Spravato drug, a fresh nasal spray authorized for treatment-resistant depression by Johnson & Johnson.
He said the drug quells “whatever causes someone to be so desperate to commit suicide.” He said he had instructed his administration to get as much of the drug as possible from the New Jersey-based consumer products company.
Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that they are engaged in discussions with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other payers to ensure “available access” to Spravato for use in patients with treatment-resistant depression. The drug is sold to the federal government at discounted prices, the company said.
Following the speech, Trump headed a fund raising ceremony for Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who is seeking reelection against Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear during the next election in November.
Trump recently promised to hold a campaign rally for Bevin and said on Wednesday that Bevin “has been a truly great governor.” Trump’s campaign for reelection has not announced a date for a Kentucky rally.
Trump also glowed with Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell and praised the Republican from Kentucky for his “exceptional” work in getting the GOP-controlled Senate to confirm some of Trump’s conservative nominees to federal courts.
McConnell is seeking reelection next year to a seventh Senate term and is facing a challenge from Democrat Amy McGrath. Trump said he’d return to Kentucky to support both candidates.
“I’ll be here campaigning for Mitch and I’ll be here campaigning for Matt, and we’re going to get them both back in,” Trump said.
Includes reporting from the Associated Press.