The American Legion, the largest and most influential special interest group for veterans has recently called the recently revealed 2013 VA budget as “better than a Valentine, but well-short of Christmas.” While the budget set aside for veterans has avoided the brutal cuts to be endured by the Pentagon next fiscal year, major construction projects will remain unfunded for year. However, the American Legion has responded positively to the budget increases in disability pay and pensions.
American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong has extolled the newly created Veterans Job Corps which will employ as many as 20,000 veterans. Commenting on the budget, Wong said, “More than one million active-duty service members will join the ranks of 22 million civilian veterans during the next five years. We must have a budget that is prepared to recognize their outstanding service by meeting their needs for health care, jobs, housing and education. For the most part, this $140.3 billion budget does that.”
While he praised certain aspects of the overall budget, Wong continued with a mild rebuke of the Obama administration’s cuts, “On the other hand, we are very disappointed that the major construction budget is taking a big hit. There are facilities that desperately need completion in Denver and Orlando. How will this affect the thousands of veterans in those areas? VA construction, both major and minor, is woefully underfunded.”
The American Legion has a current nationwide membership of 2.4 million veterans holding posts at over 14,000 locations throughout the country. It is a powerful interest group that acts to promote veterans affairs and lobbies for veteran’s rights.