President Donald Trump hands a pen to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie during a spending bill signing ceremony at VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press/Evan Vucci)

The Trump administration wants to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans' hospitals to private health care providers. That's true even though earlier this year the administration vehemently denied it would privatize any part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The privatization of essential government services is nothing new, of course. Over the years, countries have privatized dozens of services and activities that were once the sole domain of governments, such as the provision of electricity and water, road operations and prisons and even health care, with the ostensible aim of making them more efficient.

But before going down that road, the question needs to be asked whether privatizing essential human services such as those for military veterans serves the public interest. New research we recently published suggests that privatization may come at a social cost.

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Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

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And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

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Robert Wilkie (Photo: Cpl. Dallas Johnson/US Marine Corps)

Robert Wilkie has had it with people stereotyping veterans as victims — or at least that's the framing of a recent letter the Veterans Affairs secretary fired off to the American Federation of Government Employees on Monday, the largest union of federal employees in the United States.

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Robert Wilkie (Photo: Cpl. Dallas Johnson/US Marine Corps)

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie will no longer attend the Student Veterans of America National Conference on Thursday, where he was scheduled to give a speech to about 2,000 student veterans from across the country.

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For years, conservatives have assailed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a dysfunctional bureaucracy. They said private enterprise would mean better, easier-to-access health care for veterans. President Donald Trump embraced that position, enthusiastically moving to expand the private sector’s role.

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Editor’s Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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