(Washington, D.C.) –
“The budget unveiled today by the administration
fires another volley in what appears to be a budget war on America’s
veterans,” said Thomas H. Corey, National President of Vietnam Veterans of
America (VVA). “It does a disservice to those of us who donned the uniform
to defend the rights, principles, and freedoms that we hold dear. It does
not bode well for those returning from the fighting in Iraq and
While the FY ' 06 budget calls for
miniscule increases in VA health care funding, these increases are woefully
inadequate to compensate for the dramatic increases in veterans'
prescription copayments and a substantial annual "user fee." The budget
anticipates third-party reimbursements and total collections to amount to
more than $3 billion in the $33.4 billion budget.
“The increases in copayments and the
user fee are designed to drive veterans away from the VA,” Corey said.
“Even with these increases, the budget is inadequate to care for veterans
who use the VA health care system as well as those who are now
returning from war and will seek care from the VA.
“Congressional leadership and the
administration must understand that the cost of providing care for veterans
is part of the ongoing cost of our national defense,” Corey said. “With
American soldiers deployed across the globe, the administration has uttered
platitudes about our brave young men and women on the front lines of
freedom. However, this grossly inadequate budget shows that they do not
understand our nation's obligation to care for veterans.
“We believe this budget will constrict
veterans benefits,” Corey said. “The administration is attempting to
portray veterans and military retirees as unpatriotic by claiming the cost
of veterans benefits hinders America’s ability to defend itself, as
Undersecretary of Defense David Chu recently told The Wall Street
“The President is mistaken if he
believes that 58 percent of veterans voted for the Bush-Cheney ticket last
year to give his administration a mandate to cut funds for veterans,” said
Corey. “If he believes that veterans voted to restrict access to health
care, he needs to reassess his position.”