Groups Urge $68 Billion for Veterans Health Care and Benefits in 2013 Independent Budget Report
WASHINGTON, DC—Four of the nation’s leading veterans service organizations are urging the Administration and Congress to invest $68 billion to sufficiently meet veterans health-care and benefits needs. As stated in President Obama’s budget proposal released yesterday, the Administration has proposed $64 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2013. The budget proposal now goes to Congress for consideration.
The recommendation to invest $68 billion in veterans health-care and benefits is contained in The Independent Budget (IB) at www.independentbudget.org (report available on February 14)—an annual comprehensive budget and policy document, by veterans for veterans. In its 26th year, the IB is coauthored by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans), and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
The organizations were pleased to see that the Administration has proposed increased funding for the operations of the Veterans Benefits Administration. They were also pleased to see funding addressing the areas of veterans’ unemployment, homeless veterans, mental health and women veterans. However, the groups have concerns about the continued revision of medical care collections, and the significant reduction in the area of major construction necessary to maintain the infrastructure for a quality VA health-care system.
The Independent Budget recommends $57.2 billion for health care, $611 million for medical and prosthetic research, $2.1 billion for benefits processing and $3.8 billion for major and minor construction.
“With significant numbers of men and women home from Iraq and returning from Afghanistan, all transitioning to civilian life, it is more important than ever that this Congress and Administration honor our sacred covenant to care for our 1 percent of Americans who have shouldered 100 percent of the burden of our national defense,” said AMVETS National Commander Gary L. Fry. “AMVETS urges full implementation of The Independent Budget recommendations to ensure delivery of promised benefits and services to our American heroes and their families.”
“Our government has a moral obligation to provide the necessary resources and put in place policies that will ensure timely, accurate decisions on disability compensation claims and guarantee prompt access to a full range of top-quality health care for our nation’s veterans,” said DAV National Commander Donald L. Samuels. “The policy and funding recommendations in The Independent Budget are based on a comprehensive, needs-based analysis of what it will take to fulfill our nation’s obligation to the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country and our principles.”
As our nation faces a volatile economic recovery, the IB recommends that Congress appropriate sufficient funding to address the full scope of medical care and benefits delivery.
“The best way for the Administration and Congress to honor the service and sacrifice of all veterans and their families is to fully implement the recommendations of The Independent Budget,” said Bill Lawson, National President of Paralyzed Veterans. “With access to quality VA health care and benefits, our seriously injured veterans have a fighting chance to rebuild their lives, and a real hope of successfully meeting the challenges of finding a good job in a tough economy. The Independent Budget is all about empowering these brave men and women with what they’ve earned and they need to get back into life.”
For the past 26 years, The Independent Budget has been a blueprint for the resource requirements for VA. It has served as a voice of advocacy for America’s veterans by providing the White House and Congress with a roadmap for funding the Department of Veterans Affairs. At no time in our history has the need of the returning veteran been so great, the service of VA so critical and the recommendations of the IB so relevant as they are today.
“A nation that creates veterans has a sacred responsibility to care for them when they return home wounded, ill and injured,” said Richard L. DeNoyer, national commander of the 2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries. “We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress in the coming days and months to ensure America keeps that promise.”
AMVETS: Jay Agg, 301–683-4035
DAV: David E. Autry, 202–314-5219
Paralyzed Veterans of America: Lani Poblete 202–416-7667
VFW: Joe Davis, 202–608-8357
AMVETS—a leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s Armed Forces—provides not only support for veterans and the active military in procuring receipt of their earned entitlements, but also community services that enhance the quality of life for this nation’s citizens. www.amvets.org
The 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans, a nonprofit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, is dedicated to a single purpose: building better lives for our nation’s disabled veterans and their families. www.dav.org
Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded by a group of seriously injured American heroes from the “Greatest Generation” of World War II. They created a non-profit organization to meet the challenges head that they faced back in the 1940s — from a medical community not ready to treat them, to an inaccessible world. For more than 65 years, Paralyzed Veterans national office and 34 chapters across the nation have been making America a better place for all veterans and people with disabilities. www.pva.org
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization composed of combat veterans and those who currently serve in uniform. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936,
the VFW is the nation’s largest organization of war veterans and its oldest major veterans’ organization, with 2 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in almost 7,600 VFW Posts worldwide. For more information or to join, visit the organization’s Web site at www.vfw.org.