As veterans come together to remember their fallen comrades on this Memorial Day, they're also expressing concern about elements of the federal budget plan.
The budget for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as, proposed by President Donald Trump, would cut some benefits for disabled veterans, significantly impacting their monthly benefits.
It would primarily impact disabled veterans in their 60s who rely on a benefit called Individual Unemployability (IU).
"If a veteran has a service-connected disability, or injuries or illnesses that began during military service, whether it's physical conditions, mental health conditions such as PTSD or a combination thereof, the VA assigns a percentage for each disability," explains Dan Connery, Dane County veterans service officer. "What the VA does is if that veteran is unemployable due to their conditions, then they will compensate that individual at the 100 percent rate, even though their conditions may not add up to 100 percent."
Under Trump's budget plan, veterans who qualify for social security and aren't considered 100 percent disabled could no longer get the benefit and would instead have to apply for Social Security, which could pay them much less.
Ron Arm, a Vietnam veteran from Madison, said he would stand to lose more than $1,200 a month, as well as dental coverage and health care for his wife and son.
"I actually feel the fingers around my neck, that's what it feels like to me when I hear about this," Arm said.
Multiple military news outlets reported this week that the VA is defending the move by saying that the savings were necessary to pay for other programs. In part, funding would be shifted to the "Veterans Choice" program, which allows veterans to get private care out of the VA system.
The change could affect more than 225,000 veterans nationwide, according to those outlets. In Dane County, more than 5,000 veterans are considered disabled, but it is unclear how many are over the threshold age.
The plan would still need to move through Congress before anything would be final.
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