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Recovery Act Funds to Help Veterans or maybe not?

This is all fine and dandy but I will bet you dollars to donuts it won't help resolve the claims back log or give more access to health care fror veterans. They cannot evewn pay off a simple dependency claim off in a timely fashion expect more of the same from the VA and veterans will suffer for it. The Va has made improvements I will grant you but it is a tragically flawed bureaucracy that needs rebuilt top to bottom. 1.8 Billion in stimulus money should go straight to processing and paying off the million or so claims they have yet to handle before anything resembling large infrastructure should be addressed just my opinion.

VA Obligates Last of its Recovery Act Funds to Help Veterans

$1.8 Billion Investment Improves Care and Services for Veterans

WASHINGTON (August 5, 2010)- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
committed the last of its $1.8 billion in Recovery Act funds July 31,
one of the first federal agencies to achieve that milestone.  Projects
at more than 1,200 sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and
Puerto Rico will increase access to health care and services to
Veterans, while creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

"Veterans across the Nation are benefiting from these Recovery Act
funds," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  "Recovery
Act projects are improving medical care, speeding claims processing,
enhancing our national cemeteries, advancing our energy efficiency, and
generating jobs for Americans."

VA rapidly put American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act)
funding to work to improve its medical facilities, revitalize its
national cemeteries, hire claims processors, upgrade technology systems
and assist states in acquiring, building or remodeling state nursing
homes and domiciliary facilities for Veterans.

The funding received by VA is part of President Obama's economic
recovery plan to improve services to America's Veterans.  By obligating
these funds quickly, VA is revitalizing its infrastructure and moving
needed money into the economy.

Using Recovery Act funds, VA entered into 1,521 contracts with 696
contractors. Three-quarters of the contractors are Veterans owned
businesses, either service disabled Veteran owned businesses or Veteran
owned small businesses.

Health Care Services Enhanced

VA obligated $1 billion to improve VA medical care facilities across the
country through building renovations, roadway and walkway repairs, high
cost equipment replacement, security improvements, new construction,
replacement of steam lines and boiler plants, upgrades in emergency
power distribution, and purchases of additional emergency generators
among others.

To help Veterans access care, Recovery Act projects in VA medical
facilities will add or improve more than 26,000 parking spaces and 39
elevator banks are being built or upgraded. VA will upgrade nearly
14,000 inpatient bed spaces, while 16 pharmacy renovation projects will
help Veterans get medicines quicker and more efficiently.  More than
14,400 clinical improvement projects, some with multiple exam rooms,
will be undertaken.

Funds are also helping ensure VA health care facilities function more
efficiently (by reducing annual recurring maintenance and upkeep cost)
and are equipped to provide world-class care to Veterans.

Specific projects include:

*                     Bedford, Mass., VA Medical Center (VAMC) mental
health unit renovation, $7.165 million;

*                     Philadelphia VAMC emergency room renovations,
$4.74 million;

*                     Cleveland VAMC surgical suite refurbishment, $8.5
million;

*                     New Haven, Conn., VAMC private and semi-private
inpatient units, $7.743 million;

*                     Hines, Ill., VAMC electrical distribution
infrastructure upgrade, $8 million.

*

VA serves 5.5 million Veterans annually in its hospitals, outpatient
clinics and rural health programs.

Energy Conservation

VA is promoting energy conservation and reducing its environmental
footprint by investing $200 million in Recovery Act funds for renewable
energy generation technologies, metering systems, and energy
conservation and water-saving measures.  In total, the renewable energy
systems awarded represent more than 9 megawatts of planned power
generating capacity from solar, wind, and cogeneration technologies.

Two national cemeteries, in Bourne, Mass., and San Joaquin, Calif.,
anticipate producing enough electricity to supply nearly all of their
energy needs.

VA is installing solar photovoltaic systems at facilities in
Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; Dublin, Ga.; Calverton, N.Y.; San
Joaquin, Calif., and Riverside, Calif.

VA is erecting a wind turbine in Bourne, Mass., and is constructing a
geothermal system at its medical center in St. Cloud, Minn.

In addition, VA is building renewably fueled cogeneration systems at
five medical facilities:  Togus, Maine; White River Junction, Vt.;
Chillicothe, Ohio; Loma Linda, Calif.; and Canandaigua, N.Y.

VA is installing metering systems at all VA-owned facilities to monitor
energy utilities, including electricity, water, chilled water, steam,
and natural gas consumption.

VA is also investing $197 million in energy and water infrastructure
improvements.  VA facilities across the country are upgrading their
facilities to reduce energy consumption and water usage and better
manage related costs.

Claims Processing Improvements

VA is working to improve the systems for processing claims to more
quickly and efficiently deliver benefits to Veterans.  VA has obligated
$150 million to hire, train and equip new employees to improve claims
processing and speed the delivery of benefits to Veterans.  VA has hired
approximately 2,700 temporary and permanent employees to assist with
processing Veterans' claims for VA benefits.

National Cemeteries Revitalized

Throughout VA's system of 131 national cemeteries, 391 improvement
projects are underway using $50 million in Recovery Act funding.   VA is
restoring and preserving 49 historic monuments and memorials, becoming
more energy efficient by investing in renewable energy sources (solar
and wind), moving forward on nine energy conservation projects, and
improving access and visitor safety with 49 road, paving and grounds
improvement projects.

Recovery Act funds are also being used to raise, realign, and clean
approximately 200,000 headstones and markers, repair sunken graves, and
renovate turf at 22 VA national cemeteries.

One-time Benefit Payments

The Recovery Act provided one-time $250 economic recovery payments to
eligible Veterans, their survivors, and dependents to help mitigate the
effects of the current economy.  $7.1 million were intended for
administrative support of the one-time benefit payments.  VA was able to
successfully administer the program with a savings of approximately $6.1
million, and may return the remaining funds to the US Treasury.

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