The Department of Veterans Affairs recently released the President’s $132 billion budget request for the 2012 fiscal year. According to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki, they are emphasizing making every one of those 132 billion dollars count.
“We will continue to wisely use the funds that Congress appropriates for us to further improve the quality of life for Veterans and their families through the efficiency of our operations,” said Shinseki. He adds that in the current economic environment it is imperative to utilize every dollar efficiently and to eliminate waste and that the VA has put into place management systems to maximize efficiency.
Below is a summary of the proposed allocation of the 2012 funds:
Health Care – Nearly $51 billion is requested to provide medical care to over 6.2 million patients. Also included are provisions for mental health programs (including specifically suicide prevention), the activation of newly constructed medical facilities, benefits for Veterans caregivers, and research. Also planned are technological upgrades.
Benefits – More than $70 billion in mandatory benefits programs, consisting of mostly VA disability compensation and pension payments.
Shinseki reaffirmed his commitment to “break the back of the backlog” of claims from Veterans for disability compensation and pensions. The goal is to provide Veterans with a decision to their claim within 125 days at a 98% accuracy rate by 2015.
Homelessness Prevention – Nearly $940 million for specific programs to prevent and reduce homelessness among Veterans and their families. The VA has recently put an emphasis on improving these types of programs, as homelessness is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue among Veterans. The new budget is a 17% increase over the current budget.
Education and Training – Includes about $11.5 billion allocated for VA education, training, vocational rehabilitation and employment programs. This will provide benefits for approximately 925,000 people, including funds that will go to recipients of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, who will be able to use a new automated claims processing system.
Information Technology – $3.2 billion to operate and maintain its information technology systems. Shinseki emphasized that “IT is the key to bringing VA into 21st century. It allows for the efficient delivery of health care and benefits.”
Construction – Nearly $590 million is proposed for major construction projects, includes the construction projects at 7 existing healthcare facilities throughout the country, plus new projects in Reno, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Also included is $550 million for minor construction, like safety improvements, seismic corrections, and patient privacy enhancements.
National Cemeteries – More than $250 million is allocated for the operation and maintenance of its 131 national cemeteries, plus another $46 million for state and tribal government Veterans cemeteries.
Click here to read more details on the proposed budget, and how it might affect or improve your benefits.