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Department of Veterans Affairs Continues Expand

February 20, 2012

Recent news has suggested that there has been a definite shrink in the Department of Defense budget. However, President Obama’s budget shows that the Department of Veterans Affairs will see a 10 percent increase in the next year, which includes $140.3 billion in fiscal 2013, which is higher than the $126.9 billion given a year ago. This means that the VA would have about 2.25 times the money that it had in 2004, which was the start of the Iraq War.

The VA has helps thousands of veterans ever year gain the necessary benefits and programs to live healthy lives in and outside of service. President Obama has made many changes to the program in the past year, including new ways for the VA to help veterans get employment, sponsoring programs that partner with career finders and education programs to bring further attention to the job loss that has been connected to military service members after their tour of duty is over.

In an official announcement, the VA cited that the continuing growth of the U.S. veteran population shows that there are more than 1 million active duty personnel schedule to become veterans within five years. That’s an incredible large number, and one of the reasons that the budget has been increased. Senator Patty Murray from Washington was ecstatic about the new charges and wants to focus more on caring for former service members.

“This is a budget that provides reassurance for our veterans in an extremely difficult budget climate,” Murray said. “As a major influx of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return home seeking care at the VA, there is no question that the investments this budget makes are sorely needed.” Most of the money will go to mandatory programs, such as funding for disability compensation payments and pension programs, as well as paying for educational costs of an estimated half a million or 606,000 veterans and family members, who will be using the post-9/11 G.I. Bill in the next five years.

 

Many of the programs are also expanding as well. The president has asked for $64 billion to fund these discretionary programs, which shows another 4.5 percent increase. More than half of this budget will go for medical programs, since more than 8.8 million veterans are enrolled in VA health care.

There are three priorities going along with this expansion. The VA will be expanding veterans’ access to programs, eliminate the disability claims background and end homelessness among veterans. The VA plans to see another 1.25 million claims for disability benefits in 2012. Business among U.S. veterans has dropped, down to 12 percent from 2010 and 2011, which is according to numbers released by the government in December. At the last count, an estimated 67,000 veterans were homeless.

There are multiple things that the VA plans to do with the extra money. There will be $6.2 billion for mental health services, $7.2 billion for long-term care, $3.3 billion for information technology, $1.4 billion for programs that will help homeless veterans, $1 billion for Veterans Job Corps that Obama explained in an announcement earlier this year, and $258 million to oversee the nation’s veterans cemeteries.

The increases are destined to help veterans achieve a greater transition into life after the military as well as cope with injuries and mental illnesses as a result from their service. The new plan will also focus on getting veterans into good education programs and jobs.

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