President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget request includes critical investments in a number of important veterans programs. This Fact Sheet provides a summary of those proposed investments. Congress will take these recommendations under consideration, along with its own priorities, as it works to complete the Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations process in keeping with the Budget Resolution.
The President’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget request will:*
- Increase funding for the VA by $25 billion over the next five years. The President’s budget request sets the stage for increasing funding for the VA by $25 billion over the next five years to meet growing demands and expand services for veterans. The proposal calls for $55.9 billion in discretionary funding for Fiscal Year 2010, which is $5.5 billion, or 11 percent, over Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations. That amount includes more than $2 billion in Fiscal Year 2010 funds for meeting the needs of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, which is $463 million, or 29 percent, above last year’s funding level.
- Provide significant increases in VA health care. The President’s budget request would provide $44.5 billion in funding for veterans’ medical care, which is $4.3 billion, or 10.7 percent, above the Fiscal Year 2009. According to the VA, this increase would provide adequate resources for the Department to provide 5.5 million veterans high quality care; create Centers of Excellence; and provide additional specialty care for veterans, including prosthetics, vision and spinal cord injury, aging, and women’s health.
- Ensure timely funding for veterans’ health care. President Obama’s budget request includes a pledge “to work with the Congress to develop a specific advance appropriation proposal for the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Care program.” By enabling Congress to provide funding for VA medical care a year in advance, the Budget would work to ensure timely and predictable funding for the veterans health care system.
- Improve mental health outreach and services. The budget request calls for $4.6 billion for mental health initiatives, which is $288 million, or seven percent, above last year’s funding. The proposal also includes provisions to expand VA’s mental health screening and treatment services, targeting veterans living in rural areas. It would increase the number of Vet Centers and mobile health clinics, and expand outreach initiatives to veterans and their families.
- Expand access to VA health care for modest income veterans. The President’s budget request would grant eligibility for VA health care to non-disabled veterans modest income (Priority 8) veterans. This measure would effectively bring more than 500,000 additional veterans into the VA system by 2013.
- Provide support services to vulnerable veterans. The budget request would expand VA services to homeless veterans through a pilot program between the VA and nonprofit organizations. The program would help maintain stable housing for veterans at risk of falling into homelessness while helping the VA to provide them with support services. The budget request calls for $500 million for homeless veterans programs, which is $88 million, or 21 percent, above Fiscal Year 2009 funding.
- Expand benefits for disabled veterans retired from service. The President’s budget request includes a provision that would make highly disabled veterans who are medically retired from service eligible for concurrent receipt of disability benefits from the VA and retirement benefits from the Department of Defense (DOD).
- Begin the transformation of the VA into a 21st Century organization. The budget request would invest in information technology to better deliver health care and benefits to veterans. It would provide improved electronic medical records to allow the VA to access health records from other VA sites as well as DOD and also invest in the development of improved electronic processes to increase the accuracy, consistency, and timeliness in veterans’ receipt of benefits. The proposal includes 1.825 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), which is $364 million, or 25 percent above Fiscal Year 2009 levels.
- Facilitate the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The President’s budget request includes resources to ensure the effective implementation of the new educational benefits for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as provided under the Post -9/11 GI Bill.
* Note: FY 2009 funding levels exclude $1.4 billion provided to the VA in P.L. 111-5.