Secretary Eric Shinseki testified before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on the proposed 2013 budget. The pPesident has requested $140.3 billion, an increase of 10.5 percent for the coming year to cover the costs of a growing number of veterans.
The secretary addressed the department's goal to reduce wait times for mental health and other services, especially for troops newly returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Secretary Shinseki told the committee that, in the coming year, the VA will process more claims than are filed for the first time in many years. Committee members related stories from constituents who waited between 18 and 24 months for a claim to be addressed.
The Obama administration expects a 9.6 percent increase next year in veterans seeking medical treatment. The undersecretary for health, who also appeared before the committee, outlined efforts to recruit highly trained doctors and medical professionals, especially for rural areas.