Veterans

April 12, 2013

$153 billion VA budget request seeks to boost care, benefits

April 10, President Barack Obama proposed a $152.7 billion Veterans Affairs Department budget for fiscal year 2014, a 10.2 percent increase over fiscal 2013 funding that will support VA’s goals to expand access to health care and other benefits, eliminate the disability claims backlog, and end homelessness among veterans, VA officials said.

The budget request includes $66.5 billion in discretionary spending, largely for health care, and $86.1 billion for mandatory programs, mostly disability compensation and pensions for veterans.

“This budget will have a positive impact on the lives of veterans, their families and survivors for generations to come,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said. “The president believes in veterans and their families and believes in providing them the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”

The $66.5 billion total in discretionary spending includes about $3.1 billion in collections from health insurers and veteran copayments in addition to the $63.5 billion in discretionary funding announced last week.

“VA’s commitment to veterans spans generations,” Shinseki added. “From the men and women of ‘the greatest generation’ to the veterans who have returned from Iraq and those returning from Afghanistan, VA will make sure our benefits are useful and accessible.”

VA operates the largest integrated health care system in the country, with nearly 9 million enrollees, and the eighth-largest life insurance program. The department provides monthly disability pay, pensions and survivors payments to more than 4 million people as well as education assistance to 1 million students and mortgage guarantees to 1.5 million homeowners. VA also has the largest cemetery system in the nation.

With a medical care budget request of $54.6 billion, VA is positioned to provide care to 6.5 million veterans in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The patient total includes 675,000 people whose military service began after Sept. 11, 2001. Major spending categories within the health care budget request are:

 

  • $6.9 billion for mental health;
  • $4.1 billion for health care for Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn;
  • $2.5 billion for prosthetics;
  • $601 million for spinal cord injuries;
  • $246 million for traumatic brain injuries;
  • $230 million for readjustment counseling; and
  • $7.6 billion for long-term care.

 

The proposed budget would ensure that care and other benefits are available to veterans when and where they need them, VA officials said, noting that it includes:

 

  • $460 million in home telehealth funding, which helps patients monitor chronic health care problems through innovative uses of the telephone, a 4.4 percent increase over the current year;
  • $422 million for women-specific medical care, an increase of nearly 14 percent over the present level;
  • $799 million for the activation of new and enhanced health care facilities;
  • $16 million for the construction of three new national cemeteries; and
  • $8.8 million for “VetSuccess on Campus” at 84 facilities, a program that helps Veterans transition to college life.

The proposed budget provides for full implementation of VA’s Transformation Plan — a series of people, process and technology initiatives — in fiscal 2014. This plan, officials said, will systematically reduce the claims backlog and reach Shinseki’s 2015 goal of eliminating the backlog and processing all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy.

Major initiatives in the budget proposal invest $291 million to bring leading-edge technology to the claims backlog, including $136 million for the Veterans Claims Intake Program and $155 million for the next generation of the electronic claims processing system, Veterans Benefits Management System.

A major strategic VA goal is to end homelessness among veterans in 2015. The budget request targets $1.4 billion for programs to prevent or reduce homelessness, including:

 

  • $300 million for Supportive Services for Veteran Families to promote housing stability;
  • $278 million for the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, known as HUD-VASH, wherein VA provides case management services for at-risk veterans and their families and HUD provides permanent housing through its Housing Choice Voucher program; and
  • $250 million in grant and per diem payments that support temporary housing provided by community-based organizations.

 

In March, about 783,000 veterans were unemployed, a figure that includes 207,000 unemployed post-9/11 veterans. The fiscal 2014 budget request proposes a Veterans Job Corps, focused on investing in veterans’ skills and experience, putting tens of thousands of veterans into civilian jobs. Budget features of this initiative include:

 

  • $1 billion in mandatory funds to help unemployed veterans;
  • A target of putting 20,000 veterans to work within the next five years in conservation, law enforcement and infrastructure jobs on public lands;
  • Developing back-to-work programs for veterans with other federal agencies, including the Interior and Agriculture departments, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers; and
  • Supporting job-producing projects with contracts and grants with nonfederal organizations, such as states, nonprofit organizations and private businesses.

Other features of the administration’s fiscal 2014 VA budget request include $250 million to administer the VA-run system of national cemeteries, $3.7 billion for information technology, and $1.2 billion in construction, cemetery grants and extended care grants.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
WWII-MIA

Missing World War II Soldier accounted for

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced today that the remains of a missing World War II U.S. serviceman have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors, acco...
 
 
stamps2

New stamp folio to honor Vietnam Medal of Honor recipients

Nearly a dozen Vietnam Medal of Honor recipients will help the U.S. Postal Service dedicate a limited-edition stamp folio honoring them and other Vietnam heroes on Memorial Day. The “Medal of Honor: Vietnam War Forever...
 
 
af-medal

American Fighter Aces receive Congressional Gold Medal

Leaders from the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate presented the Congressional Gold Medal to the American Fighter Aces Association May 20 at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Emancipation Hall. The Congressional Gold Medal...
 

 
Korea-MIA

Soldier missing from Korean War accounted for

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced May 22 that the remains of a U.S. soldier missing from the Korean War have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors, a...
 
 
Army photogaph by J.D. Leipold

Soldiers participate during Flags In at Arlington Cemetery

Army photogaph by J.D. Leipold Old Guard and other ceremonial units place more than 228,000 miniature flags throughout Arlington National Cemetery, Va., May 21, 2015, in advance of Memorial Day, May 25. The Flags In mission has...
 
 

In memoriam

Remembering TSgt. Anthony E. Salazar TSgt. Anthony E. Salazar, age 40, died April 13 in a noncombat related incident at an air base in Southwest Asia while serving during Operation Inherent Resolve. Salazar, a native of Hermosa Beach, Calif., was assigned to U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron,...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>