JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION
1749 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, VA 22102 (Bob Nakamoto, President)
February 6, 2010
CONTACT: Terry Shima 301-987-6746;
PHOTO: Photo accompanies this press release
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WHITE HOUSE SEEKS $125 BILLION FOR VETERANS IN 2011. VA DISCUSSES BUDGET WITH VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS.
Adapted from VA Press Release
Washington, DC. In a recent meeting at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Central Office in Washington, DC Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and VA senior officials briefed Veterans Service Organizations, including the Japanese American Veterans Association, on the $125 billion budget submission for 2011. “Our budget proposal provides the resources necessary to continue our aggressive pursuit of President Obama’s two over-arching goals of veterans,” Shinseki reported in his opening comments.
Secretary Shinseki (r) and JAVA President Bob Nakamoto (l). Photo: Veterans Affairs
Secretary Shinseki said, “First, the requested budget will help transform VA into a 21st century organization and, second, it will ensure that we approach veterans’ care as a lifetime initiative, from the day they take their oaths until the day they are laid to rest. VA’s 2011 budget request covers many areas but focuses on thee central issues that are of critical importance to our veterans – easier access to benefits and services, faster disability claims decisions, and ending the downward spiral that results in veterans homelessness.”
The president’s budget proposal includes an increase of $460 million and more than 4,000 additional claims processors for veterans’ benefits. This is a 27% funding increase over the 2010 level. The 1,014,000 claims received in 2009 were a 75% increase over the 579,000 received in 2000.
One reason for the increase is VA’s expansion of the number of Agent Orange-related illnesses that automatically qualify for disability benefits. Veterans exposed to the Agent Orange herbicides during the Vietnam War are likely to file additional claims that will have a substantial impact upon the processing system for benefits.
The budget proposal includes $44 million to complete by December 2010 an automated system for processing applications for the new post-9/11 GI Bill VA also plans to start development next year of electronic systems to process claims from other VA-administered educational programs.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill authorizes the most extensive educational assistance opportunity since the passage of the original GI Bill in 1944. .
The budget proposal includes $4.2 billion in 2011 to reduce and help prevent homelessness among veterans. That breaks down into $3.4 billion for core medical services and $799 million for specific homeless programs and expanded medical care, which includes $294 million for expanded homeless initiatives. On a typical night, about 131,000 veterans representing every war and every generation are homeless.
The spending request seeks $5.2 billion for mental health, an increase of $410 million (or 8.5%) over current spending, enabling expansion of inpatient, residential and outpatient mental health services, with emphasis on making mental health services part of primary care and specialty care. The budget request will enable the department to continue expanding its programs for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), along with the diagnosis and treatment of depression, substance abuse and other mental health problems.
The 2011 budget provides $217.6 million to meet the gender-specific health care needs of women veterans, an increase of $18.6 million (or 9.4%) over the 2010 level. The number of women veterans is growing rapidly and women are increasingly using VA for their health care.
During 2011, VA expects to treat 6.1 million patients, who will account for more than 800,000 hospitalizations and $3 million outpatient visits. The total includes 439,000 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, for whom $2.6 billion is included in the budget proposal. That is an increase of $597 million – or 30% - over the current budget.
VA will maintain national cemeteries as memorials dedicated to those who served this nation in uniform. The requested $251 million for cemetery operations and maintenance will support more than 114,000 interments in 2011, a 3.8% increase over 2010. 30