Wednesday, October 9, 2013

DAV: Time to Put Veterans Funding First


Stand Up for Veterans Update

October 9, 2013

Congress Blog: Time to Put Veterans Funding First
In The Hill's Congress Blog, DAV’s Washington Executive Director Garry Augustine says that the current government shutdown, and the harmful effect it is having on veterans, “…is outrageous and unacceptable; worse it was predictable and preventable.” He points out that VA medical care programs are currently protected from budget battles thanks to the enactment of advance appropriations several years ago. “Given the demonstrated success of advance appropriations for health care programs, and the continuing budget stalemates, Congress should vote to extend advance appropriations to all VA discretionary and mandatory programs,” Augustine concludes.
VSOs Continue Assisting Veterans With Claims Despite Shutdown

Although VA has not released details about whether, when, or how VA regional offices will be closed to the public when carryover funding runs out as early as next week, DAV and other VSOs have vowed to continue providing their free services to veterans. In a news report by, DAV’s Jim Marszalek said that, “…if the veterans are not allowed to access the buildings to initiate their claims, we are going to set up our mobile service offices.” Marszalek said that DAV services officers would even set up tents near closed VA regional offices if necessary in order to ensure that veterans get the help they need to file claims for benefits.

Bills to Expand Advance Appropriations Could Have Shielded Veterans During Shutdown reports that the VA still does not back pending advance appropriations legislation even though it could have shielded all VA programs from the current government shutdown. According to the report, “…the Department of Veterans Affairs will not say if it will support legislation -- first filed in February -- that would provide the entire agency with full funding a year in advance.” House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (FL), who sponsored the bipartisan legislation (H.R. 813) with Congressman Mike Michaud (ME), said his goal was, “…to keep VA services from becoming a casualty of partisan politics.” Companion Senate legislation (S. 932) was introduced by Senators Mark Begich (AK) and John Boozman (AR), but has yet to be approved by the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

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