Yesterday, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced its proposed budget for the next fiscal year of $132 billion. Of course, the goal of both the President and Secretary Shinseki is to use the budget to further transform VA into a 21st century organization by “making every dollar” count.
I had the opportunity to attend VA’s budget brief and wanted to share a few highlights with you.
The budget request seeks $51 billion for medical care. This would provide care for 6.2 million patients, including 540,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. Of that $51 billion, $6.2 billion is for mental health programs, with $68 million specifically for suicide prevention. There is also a plan to increase funding for women-specific medical care by 12 percent.
Secretary Shinseki reaffirmed his commitment to break the back of the backlog of disability claims. By 2015, VA’s target is to provide Veterans with decisions on their claims within 125 days at a 98 percent accuracy rate. In doing this, VA plans to continue development of a paperless claims system to improve the efficiency of compensation and pensions claims processing.
Homelessness prevention is also a priority with nearly $940 million requested for programs.
As you might imagine, this is just a taste of what VA leaders briefed yesterday—and it’s only a small portion of what’s actually in the full budget proposal. If you’d like to learn more about VA’s proposed budget for next year, check out the 2012 Annual Budget Submission page on the website. And if you’re on Twitter check out VA’s twitter account, where I live tweeted the event!