The Obameter

Increase the Veterans Administration budget to recruit and retain more mental health professionals

Increase "the VA budget to recruit and retain more mental health professionals."

Sources:

"Fulfilling a Sacred Trust with our Veterans"

Subjects: Health Care, Veterans, Workers

Updates:

Funding bill signed into law

Updated: Monday, April 5th, 2010 | By Lukas Pleva

In December 2009, we reported on President Barack Obama's ongoing efforts to increase the budget for the Veterans Administration, specifically for the purpose of recruiting and retaining more mental health professionals.

At the time, we noted that both the House and Senate passed a bill to provide $4.6 billion "for mental health care to treat the psychological wounds of returning combat veterans, including post-traumatic stress disorder" as well as "an additional $1 million to provide education debt relief as a hiring incentive for mental health professionals." We ultimately rated the promise In the Works, since Obama still had to sign the legislation into law.

Looking back, however, it appears that we were a little behind schedule. Our rating went up on December 17, 2009, though by that time, Obama had already signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010, which contained funds for, among others, the Veterans Administration. In other words, this has been a Promise Kept for over three months now.

Looking forward, Obama's 2011 budget, if approved by Congress, would provide even more funds for the upcoming year. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the 2011 budget "strengthens VA"s ability to provide veterans the best possible care for Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other mental health conditions by investing $5.2 billion in specialized care."

Obama increased the VA mental health care budget in 2010 and asked for further increases in 2011.

Promise Kept.

Sources:

The White House, Bills Signed by the President, December 16, 2009.

Committee on Appropriations, Summary: FY 2010 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies , December 8, 2009.

Office of Management and Budget, Department of Veterans Affairs, accessed April 1, 2010.

More money for mental health

Updated: Thursday, December 17th, 2009 | By Lukas Pleva

During the campaign, Barack Obama promised to increase funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The additional resources would be used, in part, to "recruit and retain more mental health professionals" to better serve existing veterans and troops returning from combat.

In his budget proposal for 2010, President Obama requested that about $112.8 billion be allocated for the department -- an increase of about 15 percent compared to 2009. According to a statement from the department Web site, "This is the largest one-year percentage increase for VA requested by a President in over 30 years." The budget request includes $4.6 billion for inpatient residential and outpatient mental health programs -- a $288 million increase over 2009. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the extra funding "enhances outreach and services related to mental health care and cognitive injuries, including posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury."

The conference report bill that would provide funding for the department in 2010 and that was negotiated by House and Senate lawmakers in early December allocates $4.6 billion "for mental health care to treat the psychological wounds of returning combat veterans, including posttraumatic stress disorder" and an additional $1 million to provide "education debt relief as a hiring incentive for mental health professionals."

The House and Senate still have to pass the final bill, which President Obama then has to sign before it becomes law. This may become a Promise Kept in the near future, but until then, we rate it In the Works.

Sources:

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Fast Facts: President's 2010 Budget for VA , Accessed December 12, 2009.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Office of Budget: Annual Budget Submission (FY 2010) , Accessed December 12, 2009.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Press Release: President Obama's 2010 Spending Plan Initiates Transformation for VA Services , May 7, 2009.

Committee on Appropriations, Summary: FY 2010 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies , December 8, 2009.

Office of Management and Budget, Summary: Department of Veterans Affairs , Accessed December 17, 2009.

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