The Veterans Affairs Department’s $78.7 billion budget request for fiscal 2017 would boost discretionary spending by 4.9 percent above the 2016 enacted level, while advancing efforts to end veteran homelessness and expanding access to health care and benefits.
The request, released Tuesday, includes $1.6 billion for programs to prevent or reduce veteran homelessness, including:
- $300 million for supportive services for veteran families to promote housing stability;
- $496 million for the HUD-VASH program, in which VA provides case management services for at-risk veterans and their families and the Housing and Urban Development Department provides permanent housing through its Housing Choice Voucher program; and
- $247 million in grant and per diem payments that support temporary housing provided by community-based organizations.
The Obama administration has made the ending veteran homelessness a national priority, according to a VA press release.
Other highlights of the VA’s request include:
- $12.2 billion for care in the community, a 16 percent increase compared to spending in 2015;
- $323 million to bring leading-edge technology to claims processing, including $180 million to enhance the electronic claims processing system and $143 million to continue the conversion of paper records into electronic images and data;
- $1.2 billion in telehealth funding, which helps patients monitor chronic health care conditions and increases access to care, especially in rural and remote locations;
- $515 million for health care services specifically designed for women, an increase of 8.5 percent over the present level;
- $836 million to operate new and enhanced health care facilities;
- $900 million for major and minor construction projects, including funding for seismic corrections, two new cemeteries, and two gravesite expansions; and
- $171 million for improved customer service by providing an integrated services delivery platform.