Veterans

April 12, 2013

VA funding reflects commitment to vets

Emphasizing that a nation’s budget reflects its core priorities, a senior Veterans Affairs Department official said the proposed 10 percent fiscal year 2014 budget increase for VA and the fact that the department is specifically sheltered from sequestration demonstrate America’s unwavering commitment to its veterans.

Tommy Sowers, assistant VA secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, recognized strong support for veterans programs that continues to cross party lines, even in tough budget times.

“Veterans and veterans issues [have] been something Congress has been able to come together on,” he said during an interview last week with American Forces Press Service.

“In Washington, one of the maxims is, ‘Show me your budget and I will tell you what you care about,’” Sowers said. “And if you look at the budgets of these Congresses, this president, and what they have fought for, America cares about their veterans.”

VA health care services, education funds and disability benefits are exempt from mandatory spending cuts that kicked in March 1 with the onset of sequestration. And the proposed $152.7 billion VA budget for fiscal 2014, announced yesterday, reflects continued commitment to VA funding that has increased more than 40 percent since 2009.

Sowers, a former Special Forces soldier who served in Iraq, said the president and VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki fully understand that VA’s requirements will continue to grow after a decade of conflict.

“We see that already,” Sowers said. “Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have utilized VA health care [and] have filed more claims as a percentage than any generation before them.”

Fifty-six percent of the 1.5 million veterans of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are enrolled in and using VA health care, compared to 35 percent of the entire veteran population, he noted. In addition, 900,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are used the post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides financial support for education and housing.

To meet their requirements and those of other veterans, the fiscal 2014 VA budget request includes large increases for mental health and other health care programs and information technology aimed at eliminating the claims backlog, improving efficiencies and expanding access to programs, he noted.

The budget also includes increased funding aimed at eliminating veteran homelessness, which Shinseki is committed to achieving in 2015.

The goal, Sowers said, isn’t simply to implement quick fixes.

“We want to put in long fixes – do the transformational things that are needed to move this department into the 21st century,” he said.

“So when you look at that budget, I think it is a clear recognition by the president, by the secretary and by Congress: We know we have asked a very small percentage of Americans, not just in this war, but in wars past, to carry that burden,” Sowers said. “And that shows bipartisan commitment to our veterans.”

 




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


 
 

 

Headlines July 25, 2014

News: VA reform bills stalled by partisan bickering - Plans for a comprehensive Veterans Affairs Department reform bill that appeared all but finished a month ago devolved into partisan bickering and funding fights July 24, casting doubt on the future of a deal.   Business: Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed announce bids on Danish fighter competition; Saab withdraws -...
 
 

News Briefs July 25, 2014

Marines investigate corporal who vanished in Iraq U.S. Marine Corp officers are launching a formal investigation into whether a Lebanese-American Marine deserted his unit in Iraq or later after returning to the United States. A spokesman for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune said July 24 that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is being...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin OíShea

U.S. Forces display military might at Farnborough

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin O’Shea Capt. Tom Meyers discusses the F-15E Strike Eagle’s capabilities with spectators July 17, 2014, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. Public access was granted ...
 

 
raptors4

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 
 
lm-kmax

Lockheed Martin’s unmanned cargo helicopter team returns from deployment

After lifting more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo and conducting thousands of delivery missions for the U.S. Marine Corps, the Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace Corporation K-MAX cargo unmanned aircraft system has returned ...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 Fighting Falcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat scenario...
 




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>