Budget breakdown: Veterans Affairs
Stars and Stripes February 14, 2011
WASHINGTON — While many agencies are cutting back or barely holding steady, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ budget is growing.
The agency would get a modest 4 percent increase in its budget next year over its request for this year, bringing its funding to $132 billion.
As has been the case the last two years, the focus of the increased spending is on the needs of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. More than $6 billion will go to mental health and traumatic brain injury needs.
TBI/PTSD efforts: The department is requesting $483 million in additional funding this year for dealing with mental health and traumatic brain injury issues.
Prosthetics: The VA requested an additional $380 million to provide prosthetics for those who lost limbs, bringing the program to $2.5 billion.
Homeless veterans outreach: The agency is dedicating $939 million to keep expanding services for homeless veterans with both private and public partnerships. This helps VA Secretary Eric Shinseki with his ambitious goal of “ending” veteran homelessness by 2014.
Builders: The VA is requesting half the amount of money for major construction projects that it did last year.
Computer geeks: Although the VA has promised to improve its electronic record systems and ditch its paper-centric ways, there will be $146 million less in the agency’s information technology budget.
VA and DOD civilians: There will be no cost-of-living raise for federal employees for either 2011 or 2012, saving $713 million from the VA’s budget over the two years. Servicemembers get a scant 1.6 pay bump next January.
BY THE NUMBERS:
$183 million — Money for the long-ago-promised paperless system to cope with the backlog of benefits claims
$28 million — Increased amount allocated for female veterans-specific care
295,410 — Number of VA employees in 2012