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.


 
 

 

Reunions

Sept. 7-9 603rd AC&W Radar Sqdn (Germany, 1960-1966) Kansas City, Mo. For more information, contact Roger Kirby at 417) 358-3654 or email rakmak@sbcglobal.net. Sept. 9-14 58th Ftr Assn (58th & 474th, WWII-2014) Norfolk, Va. For more information, contact Jean Kupferer at (812) 945-7649 or email jkupferer@twc.com. Sept. 10-15 Army Air Corps Pilot Classes of WWII...
 
 

VA outlines actions taken to improve access to care, implement IG recommendations from

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Aug. 26 released the final report of its review of systemic issues with patient scheduling and access issues at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. VA concurred with the recommendations in the final report and, in many cases, has already implemented action plans and made improvements...
 
 

HUD, VA, USICH announce 33 percent drop in veteran homelessness since 2010

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Aug. 26released a new national estimate of veteran homelessness in the United States. Data collected during the annual Point-in-Time Count conducted in January 2014 shows there were 49,933 homeless veterans in America, a decline of 33...
 

 

VA announces new grants to help end veterans homelessness

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald announced Aug. 11 the award of approximately $300 million in grants that will help approximately 115,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. The grants will be distributed to 301 community agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Under the...
 
 

VA funds SoCal agencies in battle to end homelessness

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald announced Aug. 11 the award of $23.1 million in homeless prevention grants to counties in Southern California. The grants will serve approximately 4,400 homeless and at-risk Veteran families as part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. This award will serve Veteran families associated with 17 different...
 
 
DOD photograph by EJ Hersom

Obama signs act to give VA new money, authorities

DOD photograph by EJ Hersom President Barack Obama signs the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act into law at Fort Belvoir, Va., Aug. 7, 2014. President Barack Obama today signed into ...
 




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>