Protect Veterans from DC’s Political Gridlock
One year ago, on October 1, 2013, the federal government shut down. For 16 days, tens of millions of Americans were left in limbo, not least our veterans. While a shutdown has been averted this year, continuing resolutions – used in 24 out of the past 26 fiscal years – cause huge disruptions for the VA.
To end this toxic cycle of gridlock, Congress should pass the bipartisan Putting Veterans Funding First Act, providing advance appropriations for all VA functions. Applying the same process that already works well in funding VA medical operations, an advance appropriation will ensure that the entire VA knows its budget before the start of each fiscal year, improving management and preventing benefit cutoffs that could occur in any future government shutdown.
The First Steps to Fix VA Can’t Be the Last
The VA health care access crisis was a long time in the making. Many years of inadequate funding, creative accounting, budget gimmickry and lengthy delays in passing appropriations bills stretched the VA’s capacity to the breaking point and made competent management of the agency next to impossible.
While the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 – a good first step toward rebuilding the VA – appropriates $5 billion to increase the VA’s capacity, what’s needed next is for Congress and the Administration to grant the remainder of the VA’s $17.6 billion request over three years. This further investment is critical for hiring new clinical staff members, undertaking major repairs and leasing additional clinics.
Core Challenges and Opportunities Deserving Attention
To help educate legislators, candidates and agencies, we have outlined in the following a range of issues facing veterans that need to be addressed:
DAV as a Resource
We’re here to help those interested in learning more about the challenges our veterans face and need for reforms. To get in touch with DAV’s legislative staff, please call us at (202) 554-3501 or email us at LegislativePublic@dav.org.
Surely, fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served—many of whom suffered lifelong disabilities as a result—is a cause that transcends party and ideology. The time for action is now!