FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims Joe Biden Ordered The Department Of Veterans Affairs To Withhold Unvaccinated Veterans’ Health Benefits
A viral Instagram post claims President Joe Biden ordered the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to withhold benefits from veterans who have not received COVID-19 vaccinations.
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There is no record of Biden ordering the VA to withhold benefits from unvaccinated veterans. The claim stems from a satirical website.
The image in the Sept. 13 Instagram post shows what looks like a screen grab of a headline that reads, “Biden Orders VA To Withhold Health Benefits From Unvaccinated Veterans.” It started circulating after Biden on Sept. 9 signed an executive order requiring federal employees to get COVID-19 vaccines and unveiled an action plan that includes mandatory COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing for employees of companies with at least 100 workers.
“As with so many other things in our country, veterans are part of the problem when they should be part of the solution,” the Instagram post’s caption quotes Biden as supposedly saying. It goes on to credit him with stating to veterans, “Enough is enough. So sit down and get the dang shot. Do what we tell you to do and continue your service to this great country. Or go without your healthcare benefits. The choice is yours.”
In reality, the president has not ordered the VA to deny benefits to veterans who haven’t received COVID-19 vaccines. None of the executive orders published on the respective White House and Federal Register websites mention such a policy. (RELATED: Is Pfizer Developing A COVID-19 Pill To Be Taken Every Day After Being Vaccinated?)
The supposed Biden comments included in the Instagram post also seem to be fabricated. Check Your Fact didn’t find them in Factba.se’s database of his public statements, and a search of White House press releases and transcripts turned up no matches. Biden does not appear to have posted the alleged quotes on any of his social media accounts, either.
The VA’s public affairs office provided Check Your Fact with a comment from VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes via email that states, “The President has not and will not withhold benefits to Veterans who choose not to be vaccinated. The spread of this misinformation is extremely detrimental to our Veterans and their families and should cease immediately.”
The Instagram post’s screen grab appears to come from an article on the website Delaware Ohio News. The quotes attributed to Biden can be found in the article as well. However, Delaware Ohio News features a disclaimer that explains, “All stories herein are parodies (satire, fiction, fake, not real) of people and/or actual events.”
Despite Delaware Ohio News having this warning on its website, some social media users seem to have mistaken the satirical article as fact and subsequently shared screen grabs without a clear disclaimer of the content’s satirical origin.