Honoring the Service of Our Veterans

We now face a make-or-break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it. After decades of eroding middle-class security as those at the very top saw their incomes rise as never before and after a historic recession that plunged our economy into a crisis from which we are still fighting to recover, it is time to construct an economy that is built to last. The President’s 2013 Budget is built around the idea that our country does best when everyone gets a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same rules. We must transform our economy from one focused on speculating, spending, and borrowing to one constructed on the solid foundation of educating, innovating, and building. That begins with putting the Nation on a path to living within our means – by cutting wasteful spending, asking all Americans to shoulder their fair share, and making tough choices on some things we cannot afford, while keeping the investments we need to grow the economy and create jobs. The Budget targets scarce federal resources to the areas critical to growing the economy and restoring middle-class security: education and skills for American workers, innovation and manufacturing, clean energy, and infrastructure. The Budget is a blueprint for how we can rebuild an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded.

To honor their service and support America’s veterans, the 2013 Budget will:

Increase Funding for VA to Meet Increasing Needs. The Budget provides $64 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a 4.5 percent increase over the 2012 enacted amount, in order to meet the increased needs of the Nation’s veterans. This funding level maintains the Administration's commitment to veterans, providing a foundation to transform the Department and better serve veterans and their families.

Effectively Utilize Estimated Savings and Multi-Year Funding to Manage VA Medical Care. The Administration proposes $54.5 billion in advance appropriations for VA medical care program in 2014, which enables timely and predictable funding for VA’s medical care to prevent our Nation’s veterans from being adversely affected by budget delays.

Combat Veteran Homelessness. The Budget invests almost $1.4 billion to provide VA services for homeless and at-risk veterans. These funds will combat veteran homelessness through collaborative partnerships with local governments, non-profit organizations, and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Justice, and Labor. The Budget includes over $2.2 billion for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants, which will maintain existing units and expand prevention, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing. In addition, the Budget provides $75 million in HUD funds for new housing vouchers for homeless veterans who receive health care and other services through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Together, this funding supports the Administration’s goal to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015 and the Administration’s Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, which was released in 2010.

Improve Health Care Services for Women Veterans. To ensure that the women who served our country receive the care they need throughout their lives, the Budget includes a $403 million investment, a 17 percent increase from the 2012 enacted amount, for gender-specific health care for eligible women veterans to address their overall health care needs.

Activate New and Improved Health Care Facilities. The Budget includes $792 million to help VA provide the best possible specialized care for veterans in new or renovated facilities. These funds will support the staff and equipment at facilities across the country, including new major medical centers already under construction in Las Vegas, Denver, and Orlando.

Expand Benefits for Veterans' Caregivers. The Budget provides $278 million for the implementation of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. The new caregiver benefits and services include training adapted to veterans' individual care needs, a direct stipend payment, and health care and mental health services. These benefits are enhancing the standard of care provided to veterans who need ongoing care through the retention of better trained and more qualified caregivers.

Improve Career Transitions for Newly-Separated Veterans. The Administration has created resources to help veterans translate their military skills to the civilian workforce, built new online tools to help veterans and their spouses connect with jobs, and partnered with the private sector to make it easier to connect our veterans with companies that want to hire them. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act, signed into law by the President on November 21, 2011, expands tax credits to encourage the hiring of veterans, and expands access to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) workshops that are offered to separating servicemembers. The Budget builds on these efforts by boosting funding for the Department of Labor’s TAP program and grants for employment services to veterans by $8 million over 2012 levels. In addition, new initiatives will help veterans consider small business ownership as a career option.

Put Veterans to Work Preserving and Restoring America’s Land and Resources: The Budget includes $1 billion to develop a Veterans Job Corps conservation program that will put up to 20,000 veterans back to work over the next five years protecting and rebuilding America. Veterans will restore our great outdoors by providing visitor programs, restoring habitat, protecting cultural resources, reducing the risk of wildland fire, and operating facilities. Additionally, our veterans will help make a significant dent in the deferred maintenance of our Federal, State, local, and tribal lands through jobs that will repair and rehabilitate trails, roads, levees, recreation facilities and other assets. The program will serve all veterans, but will have a particular focus on post-9/11 veterans.

In addition, as part of the Administration’s proposal to provide funding to retain and hire police officers and fire fighters, preference for grants will be given to communities that hire post-9/11 veterans.

Make Disability Benefits Processing Paperless to Improve Service to Veterans. The President's Budget provides $128 million for the implementation of a new paperless claims processing system. These funds will allow VA to move away from its reliance on paper records, thereby improving the speed and efficiency of claims processing while simultaneously enhancing the security of veterans' personal information.

Expand Entrepreneurship Training Opportunities for Transitioning Veterans. The Budget provides the Small Business Administration (SBA) with $7 million to implement the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Training (VET) Program, a new initiative that will provide transitioning veterans with the knowledge and tools to start their own businesses. The VET program will make entrepreneurship training available to all interested transitioning military members through the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program, offer an online training curriculum for veterans on the fundamentals of small business ownership, and expand SBA’s successful pilot programs for veterans, including the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) and Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) programs. As part of the VA-DOD Task Force for a Career Ready Military that the President established in August of last year, the Departments of Defense and Veteran Affairs, working with the Small Business Administration, are developing a two-day entrepreneurship program as part of the Transition Assistance Program that will be available to all service members. In addition, once service members separate, SBA will offer veterans more in-depth entrepreneurial training through an 8-week online training program that will teach the fundamentals of small business ownership to over 10,000 veterans annually, as well as an expansion of the existing suite of programs and public-private partnerships supporting entrepreneurship and small business development opportunities for veterans and veterans’ families, including an intensive entrepreneurship boot camp.

Spur Job Creation through Infrastructure Investment. Recognizing the importance of a modern transportation infrastructure to the growth and competitiveness of the economy, the President proposes an upfront investment of $50 billion in infrastructure in 2012, as well as a $476 six-year billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal that will result in additional job creation and fund projects that will improve the Nation’s highway, transit, rail, airport, and the air traffic control systems, making the U.S. more competitive going into the future. Together, this proposal is an increase of more than 80 percent above the previous six-year bill plus annual appropriated funding for passenger rail during those years. Competitive funding is also provided for transportation training programs, particularly focused on workforce skill gaps, and disadvantaged business enterprise training assistance.