President Obama’s budget request calls on Congress to provide $163.9 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Additional funding has been requested for mental health programs, education and training of health care professionals and other programs to assist service members who are separating from service.
Included in the President’s budget request is another significant increase in funds for mental health. Specifically, the budget proposal requests a $309 million increase from FY 2014 for mental health care, which would result in $7.2 billion in total for those services.
The Administration also estimates that it will require $1.8 million for the education and training of health care professionals within the VA. This training program is run “in order to carry out the primary patient care function of the VHA and to assist in providing an adequate supply of health personnel to the nation” (VA 2015 Congressional Submission). This program has been the focus of ACA’s legislative efforts. Currently, counselors are not fully integrated into the education and training program.
Other funding that the VA is requesting; $ 403 million (a $32 million increase) for Women Veterans programs and a dedication of $1 billion over 5 years to a new Veterans Job Corps and $106 million to assist service members into transitioning to civilian life.
In their budget request, the VA stated that they are focused on meeting specific goals in the coming year. They stated that these goals are:
- Enhancing the overall capacity of mental health services in VA medical centers and clinics with improvements in both access to services and the continuity of care.
- Improving the delivery of mental health care by enhancing services for Veterans at community-based outpatient clinics and those living in rural areas.
- Integrating mental health with primary care and other medical care services.
- Focusing specialty mental health care and inpatient mental health care on rehabilitation- and recovery-oriented services.
- Implementing evidence-based treatments with a focus on specific, evidence-based psychotherapy and psychopharmacology.
- Expanding treatment opportunities for homeless Veterans.
- Addressing the mental health needs of returning Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) Veterans.
- Preventing suicide.
If you would like more information or, if you would to review the VA’s full budget request you can visit their website.