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Examining the VA’s Financial Impact in Bandera County

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No one is really sure how many veterans reside in Bandera County or how many survivors and family members live here either. What is known is that veterans and family members who receive earned benefits from military service and receive Veterans Administration (VA) benefits enrich the local economy, provide cost avoidance for the County Government and, most importantly, improve their lives.

Each year, the VA is required to report to Congress on the money spent on Veterans. This report is called the Veterans Administration Geographic Distribution of VA Expenditures Report. This annual report tracks VA expenditures by state down to county level. Data on the number of vet erans in each county is based on the VA VetPop2014 model which is VA’s official source for official estimates and projections of veteran population. Funding data is obtained from USASpending.gov. The report is published each May and covers the previous Fiscal year. The latest version of the report covers Fiscal Year 2020.

The VA has a significant financial impact for Veterans living in Bandera County and the local economy. In 2020, 2,764 Bandera County Veterans received some sort of assistance from the VA, and for the seventh year in a row, that assistance has increased. In Fiscal Year 2020 (1 October, 2019 to 30 September, 2020) the VA spent $42.6 million on Bandera County Veterans.

The largest portion of that VA spending in Bandera County was for $22.647 million in compensa tion and pensions. This includes: Compensation payments for Service-connected disabilities; pension payments; Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for veteran’s survivors; Widow’s Pensions and, burial allowances for deceased veterans. Most of this was in the form of monthly checks to Bandera veterans or their survivors here in Bandera County. Burial allowances are normally a one-time payment. Much of this income is spent in Bandera County.

Another Veteran benefit is education and vocational rehabilitation and employment. This benefit provides automobile and adaptive equipment, special adaptive housing, veteran and dependents educational assistance, under multiple GI Bill-type programs. In 2020, this amounted to $1.3 million. VA also paid out another $399,000 for insurance and indemnities under multiple life insurance programs for Bandera County veterans and their families.

Lastly, the VA spent over $18 million for medical care of 1,118 Bandera County Veterans in FY 2020. While this medical care is done at the Kerrville VA Hospital and at Audie Murphy in San Antonio and not here in Bandera County, it is money that Bandera County veterans save on medical care that veterans can then apply to other necessities.

If you are a veteran, you should explore your earned benefits as many of these are often changed by Congress or the VA. To see if you qualify for earned benefits, contact Dennis Birchall at the Bandera County Veterans Service Office at 830-460-1643 or dbirchall@banderacounty.org.