While the proposed 2024 Department of Veterans Affairs budget increase of 5% sounds good, it’s actually the lowest hike they’ve seen in nearly 10 years. The president claims that there is a “sacred obligation” to support veterans and that $325 billion will do just that.
As always, the devil is in the details, and that budget would cut into critical VA programs to the tune of 22%.
Per a VA.gov news release, those cuts would mean:
— 30 million fewer healthcare outpatient visits for everything from mental health services to cancer screenings and treatments to wellness care.
— 81,000 jobs would vanish across the health care system at the VA.
— 50,000 housing vouchers would be eliminated.
— 6,000 jobs would be eliminated among those who handle the disability claims backlogs, which would cause delays in getting benefits for education, insurance, pensions and more. The net result would be 134,000 additional backlogged claims. This comes at the same time the VA is supposed to be increasing hiring because of the extra work due to the PACT Act, which offers help and benefits to those veterans who were exposed to toxins.
— 500 cemetery worker jobs would be lost, meaning the five new cemeteries would be delayed and maintenance at current cemeteries would suffer.
— Impaired abilities to expand telehealth care, with limited medical equipment for the veterans to use at home. The information and technology area, for example, would be short $345 million for the network.
— $565 million less for construction to fix or build VA hospitals and clinics.
If you read about the budget in various places, all the glowing language might make it look as though so many millions are being provided to help veterans … but keep a calculator handy and do the math. Consider your own financial position and think of what a 22% shortfall would do. There would be cutbacks, doing without, unmet needs, etc.
To read more about the damage the budget would do, check out www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5874.
(c) 2023 King Features Synd., Inc.