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President seeks landmark budget for VA

WASHINGTON (AFRNS) -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson announced Feb. 5 that President Bush is seeking a landmark budget of nearly $87 billion in fiscal 2008 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, with health care and disability compensation for veterans receiving the majority of the spending.

The fiscal 2008 proposal represents an increase of $37.8 billion, or 77 percent, from the budget in effect when President Bush took office.

"This landmark budget will allow us to expand the three core missions of the VA -- those being to provide world-class health care; broad, fair and timely benefits; and dignified burials in shrine-like settings for our nation's veterans," Secretary Nicholson said. "This budget also allows us to continue our progress toward becoming a national leader in information technology and data security.

"With the right resources in the hands of the right people, anything and everything is possible when it comes to caring for America's veterans," Secretary Nicholson said. "At VA, we already have the right people -- 235,000 dedicated employees. With the president's proposed landmark budget, we will have the right resources."

Under the new budget, VA will begin a new initiative to provide priority in processing claims for disability compensation from veterans of the war on terrorism. Secretary Nicholson also announced plans to create a special advisory committee on Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom veterans and families to advise him on the full spectrum of issues.

The budget proposal calls for $42 billion in discretionary funding -- mostly for health care -- which is the largest amount ever requested by a president. It also would provide $45 billion in mandatory funding, mostly for compensation, pension, educational assistance, home-loan guaranties and other benefit programs. (Courtesy of Department of VA Public Affairs)