American Rescue Plan Includes $17 Billion for VA
Ada, MN — The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021, signed into law March 11 by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., equips the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure Veterans have continued access to quality health care and protections against COVID-19, as well as providing needed economic relief.
The $1.9 trillion coronavirus economic relief package for Americans allocates $17 billion in support of VA’s nationwide response to the pandemic.
A major part of the support for veterans in the relief package, $14.5 billion, will be spent on COVID-19 related health care, including information technology and facility requirements, as well as resources for veterans receiving housing support and an estimated 37,000 homeless veterans. Also $1 billion will be allocated for debt forgviness related to copayments and other cost sharing for VA enrolled veterans, $750 million for construction grants and payments to state homes, and $386 million in initiate a Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program to train unemployed veterans for the workforce.
The VA will also receive $262 million to reduce the backlog of compensation and pension claims, which Norman County Veterans Service Officer John Rosenberger says they had worked hard to reduce until the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Also included in the American Rescue Plan for the VA is $100 million to facilitate the modernization of VA’s badly antiquated supply chain system by accelerating the Department’s transition to the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support, $80 million to establish the Department of Veterans Affairs Employee Leave Fund, which provides funds for paid leave for COVID-19 related causes, and $10 million to decrease the Board of Veterans’ Appeals hearing requests.