Veterans Affairs budgets
emergency preparedness funds
Question: With all the current emphasis on preparing for an emergency, what portion of the Department of Veterans Affairs 2003 and proposed 2004 budgets fund emergency preparedness and response?
Answer: VA earmarked $50.5 million in 2003 for responding to war and acts of terrorism affecting VA facilities. Those funds provide pharmaceutical stockpiles for use at VA medical centers and support the centers' decontamination capability for community mass casualties. The funds also pay for personal protective equipment, hiring environmental specialists, training the Veterans Health Administration work force and overtime costs for security staff protecting medical and research facilities. Included is the operating budget of VHA's emergency management strategic health care group. The 2004 budget request includes preparedness cost estimates for similar activities.
Q: I am planning to move. Should I inform the VA now or wait until I relocate?
A: Be sure to advise your local post office to forward your mail. It will do so for up to a year. VA is divided into several large departments, and their computers are not yet all talking to each other. If you call the Matsunaga VA Medical and Regional Office Center to change the address for your clinic appointments, never assume that information will get to the regional office to update your monthly compensation check. This suggestion is especially true if you have direct deposit of your check. Contact the medical appointments and enrollment number at 433-0600 and regional office's benefits and services at 433-1000 prior to moving to your new address.
If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran,
call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049
or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.
Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin,
can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.