NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country —
is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're
calling the project "Back at Base." This is the first of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 2 / Part 3).
you're a veteran and rely on benefits from the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs, where you live may have an effect on whether you
receive the benefits you've earned.
NPR, together with member
stations WBUR, Lakeshore Public Radio and KUOW, looked at data from
3,000 counties nationwide, and found there's a huge variation in
coverage from state to state — and even within a state — on how much the
VA spends per veteran.
We also found there's no obvious
pattern. And there's no strong association between spending per Veterans' benefits cover a wide range, including health care, monthly disability checks, home loans, life insurance, and education through the GI bill, among others.
the states, West Virginia and Arkansas had the highest per-veteran
spending in 2013 — just over $7,600. Indiana, New Jersey, Delaware and
Pennsylvania had the lowest — less than $5,000. Nationally, the average
is just over $6,000. That's after filtering out things like costs to
build and operate VA facilities.
When looking specifically at health benefit spending,
calculating the amount of spending per "patient" — with a patient being
a veteran who gets health benefits — there's a wide variation that
doesn't fit discernible patterns.
For example, spending is
nearly $30,000 per patient in San Francisco, and less than $7,000 per
patient in Lubbock, Texas. Nationally, the average is just under
$10,000. In places where more veterans are enrolled in VA health benefit
plans, spending per veteran did tend to be higher.