Last week, the White House outlined a fiscal 2022 budget plan that would increase funding to The Department of Veterans Affairs. The increase would be geared toward increasing funds for homelessness, suicide prevention, caregiver support, and medical research.
The plan indicates an 8.2% increase in discretionary funding, which is the third largest increase of any federal department in the 2022 budget proposal. (The Department of Defense and The Department of Health and Human Services are the largest and second largest increases.)
Quick Breakdown of Some Proposed Increases:
- Suicide prevention funding would increase drastically, from close to $310 million in fiscal 2021, to $540 million in fiscal 2022. This would help the suicide hotlines manage larger volumes, by supporting pay for increased employment of operators.
- Prosthetic and medical research would be around $900 million, a 12% growth. This would include efforts to study and understand more on TBI (traumatic brain injury) and toxic substance exposure.
- $2.1 billion would be designated to continue working to end veteran homelessness.
- The plan includes an increase of $3.3 billion for medical spending.
$94 billion in advanced appropriations have already been approved so far for fiscal 2022. The goal is for restoration of normal capacity and operations with the VA, after many delays, closures, and backlogs that occurred from the pandemic. Part of the pandemic relief package already includes $15 billion in supplemental funds.
Congress has the next few months to meet, debate and make any changes to the budget proposal.
While the proposed budget increases sound great, a few concerns include:
- Historically, Congress has missed the deadline to pass a budget for the start of the new fiscal year, which happens every year on October 1st.
- Some lawmakers are skeptical, as the plans don’t include specifics on HOW the increased budget will be communicated and used to decrease the homeless veteran population, etc.
- Other lawmakers have raised questions about the large amount of increases in The Department of Veterans Affairs budget in the past 20 years. For example, in fiscal 2001 the budget was around $45 billion. It tripled to $125 billion in fiscal 2011. Fiscal 2021 saw a $243 billion budget.
It’s clear to veterans and veteran advocates that more specific plans are needed in place to actually make a difference in process improvement, research, medical expertise and understanding of disabilities and the rating system, support groups and outreach that veterans can access with ease (and locally), and more. The hope is that an increased budget will help address some of the backlogs, and actually open up more readily-available assistance for veterans.
What are your thoughts?
*If you are a veteran, we’d encourage you to make a move and take advantage of our free consult to see if you are eligible for our services, to potentially increase your service-connected disability ratings. Please visit https://bevetstrong.com/our-process/ and begin the process.