NGAUS Washington Report
(Aug. 13, 2013) President Barack Obama told a gathering of disabled veterans Saturday that the budget battle looming in Washington, D.C., puts care for veterans at risk.
Although the Department of Veterans Affairs was exempted from the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration, the president said it still has the ability to impact VA benefits.
“The best way to protect the VA care you have earned is to get rid of the sequester altogether,” he told 3,400 attendees at the annual conference of Disabled American Veterans in Orlando, Fla. “Congress needs to come together and agree on a responsible plan that reduces our deficits and keeps our promises to our veterans and keeps our promises to future generations.”
The government is now facing the possibility of not having a budget approved by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Currently in recess, Congress will have only a few weeks to hammer out a budget when it returns.
Obama said the backlog of veteran claims, which was 600,000 earlier this year, is still too large, but has been reduced in recent months. He pointed out that new veterans enter the system every day while aging veterans of the Vietnam era seek more care.
Plus, he noted, the VA cares for the offspring of veterans even after the former service member has died. He said benefits are going to children of World War I and Spanish-American War veterans. One daughter of a Civil War veteran is receiving benefits, just as children of the 9/11 generation will.
“This time of war may be coming to an end, but the job of caring for our veterans goes on,” he said. “And our work caring for our newest veterans has only just begun.”