The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Gen. Eric Shinseki, recently shared his concern for the impact that sequestration (fiscal cliff) driven cuts will have on the Department of Veterans Affairs; this despite all the assurances that VA programs are exempted from the cuts. (Read the full article on Military.com)
Based on the current scenarios, most veterans would not see any immediate impact from the fiscal cliff related cuts. Programs like VA home loans, GI Bill, veteran pensions, disability compensation, memorial and burial benefits, and VA health care will not be cut. But, the ripple effect of reduced administrative resources and program cuts on the DoD side will likely cause an increase in claims backlogs. In addition, any reductions to tuition assistance and increased co-pays for TRICARE will put more pressure on VA programs and resources that offer similar or duplicate programs, like education and health care.
Gen. Shinseki's concern is that the ripple effect of deep cuts in the DoD will make it more difficult for his department to serve the approximately 90,000 servicemembers that will be forced to separate from the military over the next five years. These future veterans will be impacted by administrative cuts on the DoD side of the process – mostly due to the electronic records hand-off and the implementation of the new transition assistance program known as Transition GPS, which includes resources from agencies like the Dept. of Labor, VA, DoD and the Small Business Administration. (Read the Sequestration FAQs for more details).