<\body> Stories in America: How Bush's Budget is Impacting Soldiers He Pretends to Support

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How Bush's Budget is Impacting Soldiers He Pretends to Support

President Bush is requesting $87 billion dollars for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest request for the VA in history (this is separate from the $647 billion military budget). But veterans groups and many Democrats say it’s not enough during wartime. It could cost the VA at least $350 billion to provide disability compensation and health care to Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, according to a Harvard University researcher's conservative estimate. Those costs could climb as high as $663 billion, if many troops remain at war much longer and health care costs inflate.

More than 1.4 million U.S. military members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in more than five years of combat. Of those troops, at least 24,527 have been wounded in action, according to the Department of Defense. An additional 28,000 or so have been injured or become so ill that they had to be evacuated from the war theater. And let’s not forget about the aging population from the Vietnam War.

Last year, the VA received more than 806,000 claims. The average processing time is 177 days.

The VA expects to treat about 5.8 million patients next year, including 236,000 vets from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Randy Pleva, president of Paralyzed Veterans of America said, "It is unconscionable that this Administration would push veterans away from a health care system recognized as a world leader."

In some cases, the administration is pushing veterans to their death.

Last week, the Boston Globe ran an article about Jonathan Schulze, a 25-year-old Iraq vet who returned home from Iraq two years ago. It took him that long to stop drinking and seek help from the VA. He told a counselor he was suicidal, but he was told that the clinician who prescreened cases like his was unavailable. Go home and wait for a phone call. He received a call the next day and was told he was 26th on the list.

Four days later, he wrapped an extension cord around his neck, tied it to a beam in the basement, and hanged himself.

The case is currently under investigation by the VA.


At 2/20/2007 4:00 PM, Anonymous jack boo said...

Makes you wonder why the military voted overwhelmingly for Bush, doesn't it? Well, until you consider that under his administration there has been an aggressive increase in pay for 6 years straight, brining the pay in line with the civilian sector.

Why is Bush cutting the VA budget? The VA budget cuts are part of an across-the-board budget cutting endeavor designed to get spending under control and balance the budget. The VA hasn't been singled out. And when are these horrible cuts occurring? They're proposed for 2009 and 2010. Nobody, least of all the Bush administration, believes that they'll really happen.

In fact, even the White House doesn't seem serious about the numbers. It says the long-term budget numbers don't represent actual administration policies.
Similar cuts assumed in earlier budgets have been reversed.The veterans cuts, said White House budget office spokesman Sean Kevelighan, "don't reflect any policy decisions. We'll revisit them when we do the (future) budgets."...

The White House made virtually identical assumptions last year — a big increase in the first year of the budget and cuts for every year thereafter to veterans medical care. Now, the White House estimate for 2008 is more than $4 billion higher than Bush figured last year.Is Bush an enemy of the VA?

From FactCheck.org:

In Bush’s first three years funding for the Veterans Administration increased 27%. And if Bush's 2005 budget is approved, funding for his full four-year term will amount to an increase of 37.6%. In the eight years of the Clinton administration the increase was 31.7% The Bush budget for the VA has now risen 83% SINCE HE TOOK OFFICE, AND A 9% INCREASE IS PROPOSED FOR 2008.

At 2/20/2007 4:55 PM, Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

I am currently a resident in a Minnesota Veteran's Home after having undergone treatment through the VA for PTSD and Depression which was long overdue some 40 years after the Tet Offensive which cap stoned my military 2nd tour in Vietnam with a lifetime of illness.

My blog has attracted the stories of many veterans’ such as myself and other sufferers from PTSD who were victimized by elements of society other than the VA system of medical and mental treatment. I, for one, became trapped in the Military Industrial Complex for 36 years working on weapons systems that are saving lives today but with such high security clearances that I dared not get treated for fear of losing my career:


When my disorders became life threatening, the Commissioner of Veteran's Affairs for the State of Minnesota, Clark Dyrud, stepped in and saw to it that I was entered into the VA System for treatment in Minneapolis. It saved my life and I am now in complete recovery and functioning as a volunteer for SCORE, as well as authoring books and blogging the world.

When I was in the VA system I was amazed at how well it functioned and how state of the art it is for its massive mission. Below is a feature article form Time Magazine which does a good job of explaining why it is a class act:


I had state of the art medical and mental care, met some of the most dedicated professionals I have ever seen and was cared for by a handful of very special nurses among the 84,000 nursing population that make up that mammoth system. I do not say the VA system is perfect. It is certainly being run better on a $39B budget than the Pentagon is running on a $494B budget.


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