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Posted at 4:42 PM ET, 02/14/2011

Budget 2012: Veterans Affairs

By Ed O'Keefe

President Obama's proposed 2012 budget provides $58.8 billion for operational costs at the Department of Veterans Affairs and $65.5 billion for veterans benefits.

Obama's 2012 request is about 10 percent larger than the budget enacted in fiscal 2010. It includes $208 million to implement an expansion of benefits for those caring for service members severely wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama signed legislation authorizing the program last year, but critics blame the department for missing a Jan. 31 deadline to fully implement the program.

View agency budget document (Annotated PDF)

Budget 2012 analysis: Full list of agencies

View agency budget document (Annotated PDF)

Budget 2012 analysis: Full list of agencies

The budget also includes $270 million for women veteran's health issues, a 26 percent increase in funding for the program from 2010. The department would also spend $939 million to continue expanding VA's homelessness prevention programs, a partnership with the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Justice and Labor that is a major priority of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. Obama's spending plan also cuts $709 million in military construction money and shifts most of the funds to veterans care and benefits programs, but provides funding for the development of five new national cemeteries.

Spending proposals released Friday by House Republicans to fund the remainder of fiscal 2011 would also cut VA construction programs but leave the rest of the department's budget relatively intact.

Department officials also said Monday that they expect 7 million veterans and their families to be covered by VA benefits in fiscal 2012. Funding in the budget proposal also should allow the department to process veterans benefits requests in 120 days or less, officials said.

A coalition of veterans groups called Obama's requests "a good jumping-off point," but said the request "falls short of what we know the veterans' community needs -- particularly with regard to prosthetics research and construction." An independent budget request, drafted by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, will be offered later this week, group leaders said. The independent request is often used a blueprint by lawmakers and the administration to make final decisions on VA funding.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 14, 2011; 4:42 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency, Barack Obama, Economy, The Budget  
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Next: Budget 2012: Health and Human Services

Comments

Ron110: I respect your opinions and want to clarify one thing:you wrote "What I don't like is your inference that there are veterans and then there are VETERANS. What is a real veteran to you? What exactly is a Military-related health issue and who get to say what is and what isn't?" The answer is that the VA decides and indeed there are tiers of medical care within the VA (such as who can get dental or eye care). I think we both do not like this! The tiers need to be eliminated and emphasis and care needs to focus on the "unique" needs of the veteran (such as wound and prosthesis care, agent orange, post traumatic stress ... ); I believe general medicine issues are handled better outside the VA and utilize VA money and resources needed elsewhere. Focus is the key to a better VA hospital system for the veteran.

Posted by: rngree01 | February 15, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

There are 153 VA hospitals, 773 outpatient centers, and 260 Vet Centers(counseling) in the US.
Of course all Govt Agencies needs a full review. What I don't like is your inference that there are veterans and then there are VETERANS. What is a real veteran to you? What exactly is a Military-related health issue and who get to say what is and what isn't?
You don't know how many VA hospitals there are but clearly as you say its too big and unfocused.
Lets see about 7 million vets, 153 hospitals works out to about 46,000 patients at each. Thats one big hospital!! Of course all of us don't need a hospital....yet.

Posted by: ron110 | February 14, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

The VA Hospital system should be the focus of reform. At the moment it is a system without focus, top heavy with administrators and maintenance costs (does anyone know the number of VA hospitals?), and attempting to be both a system for those with military-related health issues and a general medicine/surgery HMO. The general medical care is fragmented based on veteran qualifications and veterans are paid for their travel to the clinics and hospitals far from their homes. Clearly it has become too big and unfocused. To better serve our veterans, the VA should consider focusing its resources on military related health issues. There are general medicine resources in the private sector(in the veterans own communities)that can handle the rest. If cost cutting extends to the VA hospital system, there should be a top to bottom review and a review of priorities.

Posted by: rngree01 | February 14, 2011 10:08 PM | Report abuse

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