Veterans

Costs a question as VA plans mental care for discharged vets

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is touting new efforts to expand urgent mental health care to thousands of former service members with less-than-honorable discharges. But he's also acknowledging his department isn't seeking additional money to pay for it.

Testifying at a House hearing, Shulkin offered new details on his initiative announced in March to stem stubbornly high rates of suicide.

There are more than 500,000 former service members with other-than-honorable discharges. Still, Shulkin indicated there won't be much additional spending to pay for the medication, lab work, case management, psycho-education and psychotherapy now being covered.

He says the plan is to provide services "within our existing resources," without indicating what other programs could be cut.

It was one of several gaps in VA's proposed budget that Shulkin acknowledged Wednesday.