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September 25, 2006

Congressional Accomplishments
In Support of Veterans

Recent Accomplishments of GOP–led Congress:

Ø     The House increased the veterans budget by 18 percent in the 109th Congress: The total VA budget has increased from approximately $66 billion in FY 05 passed in the 108th Congress to approximately $78 billion in FY 07, as passed by the House.  This is an increase of $12 billion.

Ø      The House increased veterans medical care funding by 16 percent in the 109th Congress: Veterans medical care funding has risen from the $27.8 billion level passed in the 108th Congress to approximately $32.3 billion in FY 07 (not including collections), as passed by the House.

Ø     VA plans to spend nearly $3 billion for mental health care in 2007: Committed to our returning OIF and OEF veterans, Congress has appropriated increased funding for their care by 6.3 percent.

Ø     Enacted the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act: Legislation to prohibit demonstrations at military funerals held at National Cemeteries was signed by the President on Memorial Day.  (P.L. 109-228 )

Ø      GI Bill benefits boosted 59 percent since 2001: In 2001, the GI Bill educational benefit was boosted by 46 percent, raising the lifetime benefit for qualified veterans from $23,400 to $37,224 and giving our nation’s veterans more opportunities to pursue a higher education.  Chairman Buyer seeks to modernize the GI Bill to provide educational assistance to America’s reserve and National Guard units as well as returning Service members.

Ø      VA home loan guarantees has nearly doubled since 2001:In 2004, Congress increased the maximum VA home loan guarantee to $417,000, an increase of more than 70 percent from the prevailing maximum level in 2001, affording more veterans the opportunity of homeownership.

Ø      SGLI and VGLI increased to $400,000: In 2005, Congress passed and President Bush signed H.R. 3200, as amended, which increased the maximum coverage for Service members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) to $400,000.  

Ø      Cost-of-living-increase of 4.1% in 2006 for veterans and survivor benefits.

Ø      Historic $22 billion concurrent receipt benefit enacted: In 2004, Congress approved a historic concurrent receipt benefit for veterans that will provide over $22 billion to more than 250,000 disabled military retirees over the next ten years.  Effective January 2005, a retiree rated 100 percent service-connected can receive their VA disability and military retirement benefits concurrently. (P.L. 108-375)

Ø      Veterans’ Housing Opportunity and Benefits Improvement Act of 2006, S. 1235, as amended passed the House on May 22, 2006.  Among other things this legislation will: offer disabled veterans using the adaptive housing grants funding to modify the homes of family members assisting them, to better accommodate their injuries.  It will also expand the current outreach efforts of the Department of Labor to educate employers on the benefits of hiring veterans and protect service members from increases on reinstated health insurance coverage once released from active duty.  (P.L. 109-233)      

Ø     Dozens of expanded and improved veterans benefits and services:

Over the past four years, Congress has passed and President Bush has signed 17 separate bills to improve and expand veterans’ benefits and services that:

o        Expands the scope and quality of veterans’ healthcare services;

o        Provides new and increased benefits to disabled veterans;

o        Improves job training and placement services for veterans;

o        Clarifies and strengthens employment and reemployment rights for veterans;

o        Extends new benefits to veterans’ widows and dependents;

o        Helps eradicate homelessness among veterans – since 2001, homelessness among veterans has been reduced from 250,000 (about 33 percent of the total homeless population) to 192,000, about 25 percent (VA);

o        Strengthens legal rights and protections for all service members;

o        Continues the largest expansion of the national cemetery system since the Civil War, the 2006 budget funded land purchases for six new national cemeteries and included $32 million for new state cemetery grants.

A Decade of Support for Our Nation’s Veterans:

Ø     The veterans’ budget has increased 94% since 1995, the year Republicans became the majority.  The veterans medical care budget has increased nearly 90% in the same period.

o       The Republican leadership, responding to Veterans’ Committee Chairman Steve Buyer’s leadership, exempted VA from the 2006 and FY07 across-the-board discretionary cuts.

o       From 1965 to 1995, total annual veterans’ spending in constant dollars only grew an average of under 2 percent.

Ø     Republicans are committed to ensuring that the men and women serving in our armed forces are given the access to healthcare they deserve both while serving their country and after their service:

o       Republican budgets have enabled VA to care for a record number of high-priority patients, those veterans counting on us the most, including veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

o       Five million veterans will receive health care services this year, about 1 million more than just five years ago.

o        VA leads the health care industry in computerized records, patient safety and standards for high-quality care.

o        More than 90 percent of veterans will receive primary care within 30 days of their desired date, and more than 90 percent of veterans seeking specialty care will receive it within 30 days.

Veterans Spending Charts


Spending Per Veteran, 1984 - 2006
Total Budget Authority for VA Medical Care, 1984 - 2006


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