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RELEASE: CAP Issue Brief Outlines Key Challenges Facing Department of Veterans Affairs

Washington, D.C. – A new issue brief from the Center for American Progress report outlines the unprecedented challenges facing the Department of Veterans Affairs.

New VA Secretary Denis McDonough must manage these issues at a time when the VA’s top leadership is in turmoil following the Trump administration, which had five deputy secretaries during the former president’s four-year term.

“The Biden administration must move rapidly to confront these challenges,” said Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at CAP. “It’s critical for veterans to get the financial and emotional support they deserve.”

Among the key challenges described in the report:

  • Addressing the ballooning VA budget, which is now the second-largest discretionary budget in the federal government behind that of the Pentagon.
  • Expanding veterans’ access to disability benefits, including those suffering from the effects of Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War and toxic chemicals and radiation from serving in the Middle East.
  • Reducing the veteran suicide rate, which has seen 20 veterans die by suicide each day.
  • Slowing the privatization of veterans’ health care.
  • Prioritizing the women and LGBTQ people who have served, and still serve, in the military
  • Rebuilding the department’s infrastructure and staffing, including filling the department’s 50,000 empty positions.
  • Helping veterans transition into civilian society.

Read the brief: “The Challenges Facing the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2021” by Lawrence Korb and Kaveh Toofan

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at  or 202-478-6327.