TAL & others displeased with VA Budget Request

 
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TAL & others displeased with VA Budget Request

I'll start with The American Legion's Press Release:

American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt expressed extreme disappointment in the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The administration’s budget for the VA would effectively lower the earnings of our most vulnerable veterans by reducing or eliminating disability payments from veterans who are the most in need,” Schmidt said. “This is absolutely unacceptable to us.”

If approved by Congress, the president’s budget would stop higher disability payments to veterans once they become minimally eligible for Social Security. Veterans currently enrolled in the Individual Unemployability program, which is available to those who cannot work and receive the maximum disability compensation from VA, would see their benefits slashed by nearly two-thirds in some instances.

Another disturbing provision caps working age unemployability at age 62. Schmidt pointed out that many members of Congress continue to work past 70.

“This plan breaks faith with veterans,” Schmidt said. “Moreover, it’s an assault on TRICARE benefits, which were earned by veterans who spent decades of their lives serving and defending the Constitution of the United States. We are also alarmed by the cannibalization of services needed for the Choice program. It is a ‘stealth’ privatization attempt which The American Legion fully opposes. Choice should not be advanced to the detriment of cost of living increases for veterans.

"We hope all veterans, families and supporters of veterans call their elected officials and demand a well-functioning, properly-funded, transparent, and accountable Department of Veterans Affairs, and a presidential budget that fully supports veterans’ needs.”

Military.com has an article which addresses a few more problems:

The White House Office of Management and Budget proposed a budget for the VA of $186.5 billion for fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1, an increase of about 6 percent over fiscal 2017.

OMB projected $3.6 billion in savings from trims to benefits. Much of the savings would go toward a proposed $2.9 billion expansion of the Choice program for fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1.

Some of the emails from veterans received by Military.com questioned why IU should be cut to pay for Choice.

"Taking money from me to give to profit-making medical providers is wrong. You are screwing me and my wife," said a former Marine sergeant who served with the 26th Marines at Khe Sanh. "It makes no sense for [the Department of Veterans Affairs] to have to fund the Choice program.

"We did our part by serving, and so many gave their lives. Maybe some of those supporting the bill should visit the VA hospitals with veterans suffering and just waiting for their final call. Then tell their families, 'He was a good man,' " said the sergeant.

The Washington Times had even more:

The most dramatic of those is an end to Individual Unemployability benefit payments to retirement-age veterans, a move expected to save $3.2 billion next year alone and $41 billion over the next decade.

Under current policies, the Individual Unemployability program allows VA to award payouts at the 100-percent disabled rate to veterans who cannot find work due to service-connected injuries, even if they are not deemed 100-percent disabled. The number of program recipients has tripled since 2000, reaching almost 339,000 in fiscal 2016.

Trump has proposed stopping those payouts once veterans are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, arguing the practice now amounts to “the duplication of benefits.” It would impact more than 225,000 veterans receiving the payouts today.

All veterans receiving benefits checks from the department would also be affected by a plan to “round down” cost-of-living increases to the nearest dollar, which was VA policy from the late 1990s until 2013. 

Bear in mind this is just the budget request, and Congress is incredibly unlikely to sign off on all the changes. Our Legislative Division will give us more guidance in the weeks to come, so be ready to contact your Members of Congress.

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This new budget stabs all veteran's in the back especially older vets and those who served in the Vietnam era. Trump is nothing more than a con man and he has proven that he cares nothing about veterans or their problems.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.