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Akaka: VA budgets include $550M for Hawaii

MEDIA RELEASE

At a recent hearing on the VA budget, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki agreed that reforming the VA disability claims system must be a top priority.

“I am encouraged by the Administration’s commitment to add thousands of staff to process veterans’ disability claims, but we should be candid: it appears that the situation will get worse before it gets better,” Akaka said. “It will take years and significant resources to fully train new VA claims staff on the complex existing procedures. We need to bring systemic change to the current process if VA is to provide veterans with the timeliness and accuracy they deserve.”

The President’s budget proposes $125 billion nationally for VA in the coming fiscal year. This is an increase of nearly $11 billion from the previous year, including a $4 billion increase in VA’s medical care account.

The President’s budget would also provide funds to increase the number of Veterans Benefits Administration staff by more than 4,000 above last year’s level (including staff added due to the Recovery Act).

VA’s budget includes over half a billion in funding for the State of Hawaii. VA funding for Hawaii jumped from $419 million in 2009 to over $550 million in 2010. Hawaii funding for the next fiscal year would remain slightly above $550 million.

Akaka has been a strong and consistent advocate for expanding VA’s presence in Hawaii and across the nation. For more on VA’s budget, visit www4.va.gov/budget/products.as…

Following the hearing, members of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee will provide the Senate Budget Committee with their views and estimates for VA’s budget. Views and estimates are a formal part of the federal budget process, in which Congressional committees recommend funding levels for programs and activities under their legislative jurisdiction.

The House and Senate Budget Committees review these recommendations when formulating the proposed Budget Resolution for the coming fiscal year.

For the full witness list and the witnesses’ written testimony, visit veterans.senate.gov

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