Stars and Stripes – Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki offered a largely upbeat assessment of his department’s accomplishments over the last three years during remarks at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention on Tuesday. He also outlined an even rosier future, promising to return next summer with more good news.
Shinseki said the department remains on track to reach its 2015 goals of ending veterans homelessness and eliminating the benefits claims backlog, and said he’s encouraged by recent advances in establishing lifelong electronic medical records. He also chronicled numerous areas where the VA has seen significant funding increases since 2009, and he predicted a continuation of that trend, if President Barack Obama is re-elected.
Here’s a sampling of Shinseki’s budget preview for fiscal 2014:
- A 37 percent increase in funding for programs for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, over anticipated fiscal 2013 levels;
- A 35 percent increase in funding for women veterans programs;
- A 17 percent increase in prosthetics funding;
- A 13 percent increase in traumatic brain injury funding;
- A 12 percent increase in spinal cord injury funding ;
- A 11 percent increase in long-term care funding;
- A 6 percent increase in mental health funding.
Shinseki said he also expects the new benefits management system to be fully operational by next summer, and by then fewer than 40 percent of all benefits claims will be pending for more than 125 days.
Source: Stars and Stripes, July 24, 2012, by Leo Shane III