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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The President's Budget: Through the Veteran Lens

Let's get right down to it.

First off some good news for our troops: if the President has his way, they'll be getting a 2.2% raise. That translates to $1,188 per year for an Army captain. It doesn't quite keep up with inflation, but an increase is an increase.


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Although the President's $2.77 trillion budget (VA portion: $80.6 billion) would add about $3 billion in real appropriations for veterans health care over that of last year's, it "relies on $1.1 billion in cost-saving 'efficiencies' -- the subject of a Government Accountability Office report released earlier in the month that criticized past VA health-care projections from the president's Office of Management and Budget."

With projections of 109,000 new VA patients entering the system (from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters), the American Legion says the current budget is more realistic than that seen in 2005:

"The under-estimated number of VA patients from the ongoing war contributed mightily to the $1.5 billion budget shortfall for VA health care in 2005," [National Commander Thomas L.] Bock said. "This appears to address that." He also applauded a requested increase in mental-health-care funding, from $2.8 billion to $3.2 billion.

So, the news within the budget's 2,400 pages isn't entirely bad.

But with veterans returning suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], an increase in mental health funding is required and is better than what we find in the rest of Bush's budget plans.

The President wishes to:

We'll have to keep our attention on this as it moves forward. Let's make sure our returning troops and veterans have the resources they need.




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