President Donald Trump announced that he was directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to postpone debt collection from veterans and extend deadline for benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We're making every effort to provide relief to our great veterans," Trump said in a press briefing Wednesday night. "We take very good care of our veterans.
"At my direction, Secretary Wilkie will use any authority at his disposal to extend deadlines for benefits and to postpone debt collections," the president said.
The announcement followed top Veterans Affairs lawmakers in the Senate, Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Jon Tester, D-Mont., calling on Wilkie to give extensions for veterans applying for benefits during the crisis. If veterans don't meet those deadlines, and if no extensions are provided, those vets could lose VA benefits.
Moran and Tester asked Wilkie to delay all benefits deadlines by at least 180 days.
It was unclear as of Friday how long VA would extend deadlines after the president's directive.
The efforts come amid increasing cases of veterans with the virus, and increasing deaths.
By Friday afternoon, VA reported at least 78 veterans had died of the virus nationwide, up 10 from a day prior.
VA said it was tracking at least 2,184 cases of veterans who tested positive for the virus and had administered more than 22,251 tests.
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