Independent Budget Recommends $65.3 Billion for Veterans Health Care and Benefits
Annual budget and policy document says the administration's proposed $61.9 billion spending for fiscal 2012 is not enough.
On Feb. 14, four of the nation's leading veterans service organizations released a statement urging the Obama administration and Congress to invest $65.3 billion to sufficiently meet veterans health care and veterans benefits needs. For the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the administration has proposed $61.9 billion in discretionary spending for fiscal year 2012. The budget proposal now goes to Congress for consideration.
The recommendation is contained in The Independent Budget (IB), an annual comprehensive budget and policy document. In its 25th year, the IB is coauthored by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The IB co-authors said they are pleased that the president's proposed budget would give veterans an overall increase -- even though it does not meet the overall figure recommended in the IB. The organizations have concerns regarding reductions in the areas of medical and prosthetic research, and construction, as well as unspecified efficiencies.
The IB recommends $55 billion for health care, $620 million for medical and prosthetic research, $2.3 billion for benefits processing and $2.8 billion for major and minor construction.
Recommended improvements include better use of electronic information systems to speed up claims processing. Given the significant difficulties facing many veterans and their families as a result of the current economy, rapid approval of their benefits will provide much-needed help to deal with the hardships associated with unemployment and loss of health insurance, according to the IB co-authors.
"A nation that creates veterans has a sacred responsibility to care for them when they return home wounded and disabled," said Richard L. Eubank, national commander of the 2.1 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its auxiliaries. "We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to keep that promise."
Click here to access the full budget and policy document.