Congress Considers $65.3 Billion Budget for Veterans Health Care and Benefits

Four of the nation’s leading veterans service organizations are urging the Administration and Congress to invest $65.3 billion to meet veterans health care and veterans benefits needs. For the Department of Veterans Affairs, 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, by veterans, for veterans. In its 25th year, the IB is coauthored by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

In light of the country’s current fiscal circumstances, the coauthors stated that they are pleased that President Barack Obama’s proposed budget has given veterans an overall increase — even though it does not meet the overall figure recommended in the IB, according to a press release. The organizations, however, have concerns regarding reductions in the key areas of medical and prosthetic research, and construction.

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.

“Our nation is at a crossroads, and we have many difficult decisions ahead of us. So now more than ever we must continue to recognize the needs of our returning veterans as a top national priority and a moral imperative,” Jerry Hotop, AMVETS National Commander, stated in the release. “Full implementation of The Independent Budget recommendations will ensure the sufficient and timely funding of VA, which is crucial to delivering the health care and benefits each of our veterans has earned through their sustained sacrifices. The honorable and selfless service of our American heroes deserves no less.”

Recommended improvements include better use of electronic information systems to speed up claims processing. Rapid approval of benefits will provide much-needed help to deal with the hardships associated with unemployment and loss of health insurance.

“Our government is honor-bound to provide the resources that will guarantee timely, accurate decisions on disability compensation claims and all funding necessary to ensure prompt access to a full range of top-quality health care for our nation’s veterans,” Wallace E. Tyson, DAV National Commander, stated.

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