By Matthew M. Burke
Copyright 2014 Stars and Stripes
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The federal government will fall well short of meeting veterans’ health care and benefits needs in the coming years, several leading veterans service organizations said this week, and tens of billions of dollars in additional spending will be needed to adequately address the issue.
The 28th annual “Independent Budget” — recommendations “by veterans for veterans” for funding and policy changes for fiscal 2015 and beyond — was released Tuesday by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans and American Veterans. The report calls for $72.9 billion in additional health, benefits, claims processing and infrastructure spending for the fiscal 2015 budget, which sets aside money in advance for future fiscal years.
The Department of Veterans Affairs receives funding for health care in advance to help plan and manage care. Advance appropriations can be revised before the start of the fiscal year in question, although that doesn’t always happen.
The groups called on Congress to add the rest of the VA funding to the advance appropriations process.