The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a wide variety of programs and services for the nation’s 22 million veterans and continues to emphasize three long-term goals: increasing access to VA benefits and services, reducing the claims backlog, and eliminating veterans’ homelessness. In addition, VA has placed renewed emphasis on rebuilding trust with America’s veterans, improving service delivery, and transforming the agency to empower veterans to more easily navigate VA and access their earned care and benefits.
In 2014, about 9.1 million veterans were enrolled in VA health care. With additional staff and expanded hours of operation, nearly 118,000 more participants received health care than the previous year. In 2014, more than 4.3 million veterans and survivors received VA disability compensation or pensions totaling more than $60 billion. The same year, more than a million recipients participated in VA’s GI Bill® and other educational programs with expenditures totaling nearly $12.4 billion. More than 123,000 trainees participated in VA’s vocational rehabilitation activities in 2014, and nationally, some 6.4 million lives were insured through life insurance policies valued at more than $1.2 trillion. More than 125,000 veterans and family members were buried in VA’s national cemeteries and nearly 355,000 headstones and markers were provided for veterans’ graves worldwide.
Since 2011, VA has undergone the most significant transformation in its history to improve the delivery of VA benefits. In 2014, VA completed a record-breaking 1.32 million claims – over 150,000 more than 2013 – the fifth year in a row of more than one million completed disability claims. By the end of 2014, VA had reduced the disability claims backlog to 242,000 – a 60 percent reduction from its peak of 611,000 in March 2013 – and veterans waited, on average, 119 fewer days for a claims decision. By transforming to an electronic processing environment, using mandatory overtime, and through other innovative initiatives, VA continued to make dramatic reductions to the backlog in 2015.
Since 2010, more than 360,000 veterans and their family members have been permanently housed, rapidly rehoused, or prevented from falling into homelessness through support provided by VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). VA, along with HUD and hundreds of community organizations across the country have reduced the estimated number of homeless veterans by more than 36 percent since 2010. VA’s joint program with HUD has provided housing vouchers for more than 79,000 veterans; VA is expanding other successful programs such as Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) to prevent tens of thousands of veterans and their families from becoming homeless each year.
General Information – Puerto Rico (Fiscal year 2014 data)
Number of veterans: 93,240
VA expenditures in Puerto Rico: $1.6 billion
Compensation and pensions: $816.5 million
Medical and construction programs: $657 million
Insurance and indemnities: $2.8 million
General operating expenses: $22 million
Number of veterans receiving disability compensation or pension payments: 34,624
Number of home loans in Puerto Rico backed by VA guarantees: 1,441
Value of Puerto Rico home loans guaranteed by VA: $219 million
Number of VA life insurance policies held by Puerto Rico residents: 3,386
Value of VA life insurance policies held by Puerto Rico residents: $35 million
Number of Puerto Rico participants in VA vocational rehabilitation: 684
Number of veterans buried in Puerto Rico’s VA national cemeteries: 1,710
Number of headstones and markers provided for graves of Puerto Rico veterans and survivors: 3,378
One of the most visible of all VA benefits is health care. VA provides health care services to veterans at 1,588 locations. VA also operates 300 Vet Centers and 70 Mobile Vet Centers, which provide readjustment counseling to veterans and their families. Veterans can access outpatient care at 1,207 locations, acute inpatient (hospital) care at 144 locations, community living centers at 134 locations and residential rehabilitation at 114 locations. In 2014, VA treated more than six million patients during 92 million outpatient visits and nearly 707,000 inpatient admissions. Another 1.3 million received care in local communities, funded by VA. New technologies are expanding access to care. For example, VA telehealth programs – the largest and most comprehensive in the nation – are turning veterans’ homes and communities into preferred sites of care. In 2014, VA’s telehealth programs provided care to more than 717,000 veterans in more than 2.1 million episodes of care. Outreach using mobile health clinics and rural health care partnerships continues to expand access to veterans in rural areas.
Not all military service-related issues end when people are discharged from active duty. In 2014, VA paid $58.4 billion in disability compensation benefits to 3.9 million veterans for medical conditions incurred or aggravated during their active military service. Additionally, VA paid an estimated $5.2 billion in pension benefits to 521,000 low-income, wartime veterans and survivors in 2014. Veterans and survivors who are eligible for VA pension benefits and are housebound or require the aid and attendance of another person may also be eligible to receive additional monetary amounts.
Disabilities and Pensions - Puerto Rico (Fiscal year 2014 data)
Number of veterans receiving monthly disability compensation: 25,380
Number of VA pensions to veterans in Puerto Rico: 9,244
Number of disability claims processed: 13,616
Most men and women who served in the military are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery, as are their spouses and dependent children. VA manages the country’s network of national cemeteries with approximately 3.4 million gravesites at 133 national cemeteries in 40 states and Puerto Rico, as well as in 33 soldier’s lots and monument sites. In 2014, more than 125,000 veterans and dependents were buried in VA's national cemeteries. Additionally, VA provided more than 355,000 headstones and markers and over 618,000 Presidential Memorial Certificates to the loved ones of deceased veterans. VA also has provided funding for the creation of 95 state veterans cemeteries since the Veterans Cemetery Grants Program began in 1978. In 2014, more than 32,000 burials were conducted in state cemeteries.
Memorial Affairs – Puerto Rico (Fiscal year 2014 data)
National cemetery burials in Puerto Rico:
Puerto Rico National Cemetery: 1,710
Headstones and markers provided (statewide): 3,378
Presidential Memorial Certificates issued (statewide): 1,455