Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Shulkin testified before the House Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Appropriations Subcommittee about the VA budget. During the hearing, Shulkin was asked about his priorities to expand access to care at VA medical facilities and his efforts to adopt the same electronic health care record used by the Department of Defense (DoD). In addition, three separate House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Subcommittees (Health, Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Economic Opportunity) also reviewed aspects of the VA’s FY2019 budget request. The propose overall VA budget increase of $12.1 billion, is more than a six percent increase over the FY2018 budget.  The VA budget is up 175 percent since 2006. Other provisions of the FY2019 budget request include: increasing medical care $4.2 billion above FY2018 ($76.5 billion) for FY2019 and $2.6 billion above 2019 for FY2020; hiring an additional 225 fiduciary employees to help protect veterans who are unable to manage their VA benefits; adding $1.2 billion in FY2019 budget to implement single Electronic Health Record (EHR) to create a seamless transition from DoD to VA; and providing $14.7 billion in discretionary funding for community care for veterans. The FY2019 proposed budget calls for rounding down VA monthly benefits to the nearest dollar to help pay for veterans attending flight school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits have been earned with three or more years of arduous service by veterans who were in the military after September 11, 2001. Disabled veterans should not have their benefits cut to pay for this benefit. Most people support the Independent Budget (IB) recommendations that were recently released and co-authored by Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).  IB has served as a guide for funding the VA for 31 years and this framework will help meet the challenges of serving American veterans. For more information, contact Sandra at the Veterans Service Office at 602 Strong Ave on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 3pm, or call 365-3612.

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