Returning troops put strain on VA


WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) – U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan are providing a challenge for veterans-affairs organizations straining to meet the needs of veterans, analysts said.

There are currently 91,000 troops in Afghanistan and 23,000 will return to the United States by the end of the summer, MSNBC reported Thursday. The rest will be home by December 2014.

Ray Kelley, legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, says the agency is going to need more funding.

“You can’t have more people coming into the system needing care and flat line the service,” Kelly told MSNBC. “It’s not that we can cross our fingers — we have to insist that budgets continue to grow.”

President Obama has proposed $140.3 billion to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the next fiscal year, and the VA estimates about $53 billion would go towards medical care.

Last year, the VA provided specialty mental health services to 1.3 million veterans.

“It’s going to be a question of capacity,” Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow for the Center for American Progress, told MSNBC. “Do they have enough doctors and people?”

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