Eliminating the Wait List for Medical Care: This year, the list of veterans waiting more than six months for basic medical care, which peaked at 300,000, will be essentially eliminated.
Cutting the Disability Claims Backlog: The President promised to reduce the disability claims backlog, and at his request, Congress has provided VA with the resources it needs to reduce claims. Claims backlogs have dropped from a high of 432,000 and are approaching the VA goal of 250,000. The volume of claims decisions per month has increased from 40,000 to 68,000. The average length of time to process a veteran's compensation claim has dropped from approximately 230 days to 160 days. VA is working to meet its processing goal of 100 days this year.
Priority Scheduling for VA's Core Medical Mission : Treating veterans with military disabilities, lower incomes, and special needs has always been VA's core medical care mission and its highest priority. President Bush's Administration has established a new scheduling system to ensure that veterans seeking care for a service-connected condition are first in line. No veteran disabled in the service of our country will ever be turned away.
Concurrent Receipt of Benefits: The President twice signed legislation providing concurrent receipt of both military retired pay and VA disability compensation for those military retirees most deserving combat-injured and highly-disabled veterans finally reversing a century-old law preventing concurrent receipt.
Help for Homeless Veterans: The Bush Administration has launched a $35 million program to provide permanent housing, health care, and other support services to our homeless veterans most in need.
Serving America's Newest Veterans and Caring for Families of Veterans
Benefits Delivery Available upon Discharge from Military Service: Under President Bush's Administration, the VA and the Department of Defense have developed a proactive partnership to better share valuable resources benefiting veterans, military beneficiaries, and taxpayers. VA staff is reaching out to 136 military bases to provide America 's newest veterans with the services they have earned and to bring about a seamless transition for new veterans from military to civilian status. To date, more than 15,000 veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq have been provided VA care.
Caring for Families: The VA makes pensions based on need available to surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased veterans with wartime experience. President Bush signed the Veterans Benefits Act authorizing new and expanded benefits for disabled veterans, surviving spouses, and children.
Fulfilling Our Nation's Promise: Under President Bush's leadership, VA is honoring veterans with a hallowed, final resting place. The President signed H.R. 1516, the National Cemetery Expansion Act of 2003 into law, establishing, within four years, six new national cemeteries in the following areas: southeastern Pennsylvania; Birmingham, Alabama; Jacksonville, Florida; Bakersfield, California; Greenville/Columbia, South Carolina; and, Sarasota, Florida.