Tom from St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote in to ask why our federal budget numbers don't combine funding for veterans with military spending, since they're both part of a larger national security category. For instance, here's the projected discretionary budget for fiscal 2013, broken into 12 spending categories:
The military will account for 57 percent of the projected $1.15 trillion discretionary budget in fiscal 2013, while veterans' benefits are projected to account for 5 percent. (Discretionary spending is part of total federal spending and separate from mandatory spending; there's also funding for veterans in the mandatory budget.)
National Priorities Project always keeps veterans' benefits separate from the military, and here's why. While there is much debate and discussion about whether the military budget should undergo significant cuts, there is little debate about whether or not veterans programs should be amply funded. NPP therefore provides separate numbers for each category, so they can be discussed as separate issues.
Veterans programs include health care for disabled vets, pensions, and initiatives to serve homeless and unemployed veterans. Even if we ended all military programs tomorrow, we would still have obligations to our veterans for many years to come.