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The VA By the Numbers: How Big Is It and Who Uses It?

by Monica Alba /

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How big is the Veterans Health Administration?

- 150 VA Hospitals

- 820 VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinics

- 300 VA Vet Centers, which offer counseling, suicide prevention and other services

Who do these hospitals serve?

- 5.69 million patients in 2013

- 8.92 million people enrolled in VA health care system

- 6.69 million life insurance policies supervised and administered by the VA

- 3.84 million veterans receiving VA disability compensation

- 2.03 million active VA home loan participants

- 1.09 million VA education beneficiaries

- 310,000 veterans receiving VA pensions

- 70,000 VA vocational rehabilitation trainees

How bad is the VA’s benefits and disability claims backlog?

- Pending disability claims peaked in March 2013 at 611,000

- There were 344,000 claims as of April 2014 (a reduction of 44 percent)

- On average, vets are waiting 119 days less for a decision than they were a year ago

- VA’s national rate of accurately processing benefit and disability claims: 91 percent

- President Obama pledged during his 2008 campaign to reduce the average wait time for VA claim decisions to 125 days by the end of 2015. Estimates of wait times at some VA facilities can exceed a year; the VA says it has lowered the average wait time by 119 days since 2013.

How much does it cost the taxpayer?

- Estimated 2014 fiscal year VA budget: $150.7 billion

- Budget requested for 2015: $163.9 billion

- Estimated budget for hospital and medical care for veterans: $55.4 billion

- VA represents an estimated 3.9 percent of the federal budget

How many veterans are there?

- 21,882,153 total

- 2.5 million served during Iraq/Afghanistan

- 6.5 million served during the Gulf War

- 7.3 million served during the Vietnam era

- 2.1 million served during the Korean conflict

- 1.2 million served during World War II

- 5.5 million served during peacetime only

(NOTE: categories are not mutually exclusive; veterans may have served during more than one conflict)

Who are they?

- Veteran population is 90 percent male, 10 percent female

- 79.6 percent are white, 11.3 percent are black, 5.7 percent are Hispanic

- 44.19 percent of the veteran population is 65 or older

- Median annual income of veterans, including retirees: $36,264, as of 2012

- 14.7 million veterans voted in the 2012 presidential election

- 1.2 million veterans didn’t have health insurance in 2012

Sources: Department of Veterans Affairs, United States Census Bureau

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