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VETERANS BENEFITS AND SERVICES
National Needs Statement:
• To help veterans of draft and wartime service return to
• To provide medical care to veterans for all disabilities
• To compensate service-disabled veterans for their loss of
• To compensate the families of veterans killed in service
• To provide financial assistance to needy veterans and
The statement of national needs recognizes the many different levels of sacrifice that veterans have made, and supports benefits that are appropriate to these sacrifices. The administration recognizes the important obligation of the Government to provide veterans the highest quality medical care for disabilities incurred in the service of our country. The administration also recognizes the Government's commitment to assist in the readjustment of veterans to civilian life. This budget targets resources to programs supporting those needs. To address these needs in 1979, the Federal Government will spend an estimated $19.3 billion in support of the following major missions: • Income security for veterans: $10.3 billion. • Veterans education, training, and rehabilitation: $2.6 billion. • Hospital and medical care for veterans: $5.8 billion. • Veterans housing: $15 billion in new loans and loan guarantees, with net outlays of —$55 million. • Other veterans benefits and services: $0.7 billion. To help carry out these missions, a number of initiatives are reflected in the 1979 budget. The major proposals are: • Establish contract programs to treat drug and alcohol abuse, and to provide mental and psychological readjustment services to Vietnam veterans. • Continue support of proposed legislation to require health insurers to reimburse the VA for care of insured patients' non-serviceconnected disabilities. • Continue to seek legislation to limit travel reimbursement for veterans treated for non-service-connected disabilities.
Propose legislation to provide cost-of-living increases in com
pensation benefits. • Propose legislation to provide improvements in the pension
system. • Reduce the number of operating beds in VA hospitals by 3,100 in
1979 and make further reductions in 1980 in order to meet privacy and safety standards, and to improve the quality of medical
services. • Support proposed legislation to end enrollments in general flight
training and correspondence courses that do not promote the
readjustment of veterans to civilian life. This budget also reflects changes in veterans needs that are occurring with the changing age structure of the population of veterans and their survivors. As the veteran population ages, demands for veterans benefits shift. The demand for educational benefits is anticipated to continue to decline as Vietnam veterans of the peak discharge years, 1969–71, pass beyond the period of eligibility, while the demand for pension and medical care benefits can be expected to grow as veterans age. In part, this is because veterans, on reaching age 65, are automatically considered to be disabled under existing law. In addition, the need for financial assistance and medical care grows rapidly with age. Potential Veteran Beneficiaries, 1975-2000
NATIONAL NEED: PROVIDING VETERANS BENEFITS AND SERVICES
[Functional code 700; in millions of dollars]
Income security for veterans.—In addition to general Federal income security programs, such as social security, several programs help certain veterans and their survivors maintain their income when the veteran is disabled, aged, or deceased. Outlays for veterans income security programs are estimated to be $10.3 billion in 1979.
Service-connected compensation.—Monthly compensation payments are provided to veterans who are disabled as a result of military service. The amount of the benefit relates to the degree to which earnings are impaired as a result of disability. Dependency and indemnity compensation payments are made to survivors of veterans who die from service-connected injuries. Recently enacted legislation increased benefits by 6.6% for veterans and survivors, effective in October 1977. An estimated 2.6 million veterans and their survivors will receive $6.5 billion in compensation benefits in 1979. Legislation will be proposed to provide a 5.8% cost-of-living increase in compensation benefits, effective in October 1978.
Non-service-connected pensions.—Pensions are provided to needy wartime-service veterans who are aged or have become disabled subsequent to their military service. Needy survivors of wartimeservice veterans also may qualify for pension benefits based on demonstrated financial need. Recent legislation raised pension rates by 6.5% effective January 1, 1978. An estimated 2.3 million veterans and their survivors will receive $3.3 billion in pension benefits in 1979. $111 million of outlays are included in the budget for improvements in the pension system.
Burial and other benefits.-Families of deceased veterans who are buried in private cemeteries rather than WA National Cemeteries may receive allowances to apply toward the purchase of burial plots. Families of deceased veterans also receive burial benefits to assist in defraying veterans funeral expenses. Outlays for burial and other allowances are estimated to be $177 million in 1979.
Life insurance.—Insurance programs for veterans and their survivors will provide $33.4 billion of coverage to 4.7 million families in 1979. The servicemen's group life insurance program for military personnel will provide $63.5 billion of coverage to 3.2 million families in 1979.
Veterans education, training, and rehabilitation.—The veterans education, training, and rehabilitation mission is carried out through the GI bill, which provides education benefits ranging from college courses to vocational and on-the-job training. These benefits help veterans who entered military service before 1977 make the transition from military to civilian life by helping them obtain the education they might have received had they not served their country in a time of national emergency. Active duty servicemen and widows and children of veterans who have died or been totally disabled in military service also are eligible for these benefits. Service-disabled veterans with significant disabilities can choose between regular GI bill benefits or vocational rehabilitation training. Those who enter military service after 1976 are eligible for a new education program that allows them to set aside $50 to $75 from their monthly pay. These amounts are matched by the Government and returned in education payments after discharge.
The number of trainees will continue to drop in the future as the number of eligible veterans becomes smaller. In 1979, 1.3 million GI bill trainees are expected to participate in the program, a reduction from 1.6 million in 1978. Thus, despite an average increase in GI bill benefits of 6.6%, effective October 1, 1977, outlays are estimated to decline from $3.1 billion in 1978, to $2.6 billion in 1979.
The administration is again proposing legislation to end enrollments in general flight training and correspondence courses that do not promote the readjustment of veterans to civilian life. The budget estimates assume enactment of this proposal, which would result in savings of $100 million in 1979.
In addition to the 6.6% increase in GI bill education program benefits effective October 1, 1977, the GI Bill Improvement Act of 1977 provided a 2-year extension of education loan eligibility to some trainees and permits forgiving up to two-thirds of an individual's education loan under certain conditions.
Hospital and medical care for veterans.—The Veterans Administration achieves the mission of providing hospital and medical care to veterans by operating a nationwide civilian medical care system. In 1979, it will operate 172 hospitals, 228 outpatient clinics, 92 nursing homes, and 16 domiciliaries. Outlays for medical programs are expected to be $5.4 billion in 1978 and to rise to $5.8 billion in 1979.
Medical care and hospital services.—In 1979, the VA will increase its emphasis on the care of veterans with service-connected disabilities, Vietnam veterans and the rapidly growing population of elderly veterans. In order to concentrate medical care on these veterans, to meet privacy and other standards, and to free resources for new treatment programs, WA will reduce its hospital system by 3,100 beds in 1979, and make further reductions in 1980. Currently, 70% of VA inpatient care is devoted to treating veterans' non-service-connected disabilities. To the extent that available facilities and staff are not