This week, VA rolled out its budget request for 2014, which will seek $152.7 billion to increase capacity for programs and services delivered to Veterans.
To simplify a complex thing, here’s a primer on what the budget entails. There are two kinds of spending. The first is mandatory spending, which aims to cover our services like paying out disability, pension and education claims. That amount will climb to $86.1 billion.
The second kind is discretionary, which doles out funds for programs and services in need of expansion as our Veteran population grows. The request for 2014 is $66.5 billion. A big focus for this year’s budget is related to the processing of disability claims, which is something that can be done quickly and efficiently once technology-based solutions are in place. The request calls for $2.5 billion to further implement new technology and training, including $155 million for investment in the Veterans Benefits Management System.
On the health side of the house, $54.6 billion was requested for medical care, including $7 billion in mental health care—a boost of $469 million from last year. The effort to end Veteran homelessness would see an injection of $1.4 billion as measurable progress is being made not only to keep Vets off the streets, but to make sure they don’t end up there in the first place. About $422 million would be allotted for an ever-increasing number of female Veterans.
As for employment, $104 million will be invested in transition assistance for civilian life, along with a proposal to get 20,000 Veterans into infrastructure and law enforcement slots.