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US veteran's programs could lose funding due to budget

August 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the battle over the deficit and Congress poised to make trillions of dollars in spending cuts, a lot of people are nervous. That includes U.S. veterans.

U.S. Vets is a program that helps thousands of veterans every year. Some of those veterans live at the Inglewood facility.

However, the demands are growing while the money diminishes. 40 percent of U.S. Vets money comes from the Veterans Administration.

"Everyone always said its veterans funding, they will never take veterans funding," said Stephen Peck from U.S. Veterans Initiative. "This year, as I said for the first time ever, funding was lost. We don't quite know what's going to happen."

Peck is a Vietnam veteran and son of the late Academy Award winning actor Gregory Peck. He knows some of the special needs funding for vets, such as the women's program, is in danger of being cut.

U.S. Vets works with all veterans, including people who are chronically homeless or mentally ill.

''If we lose that then we really have torn the guts out of our program," said Peck. "So we have not found out about that."

Many of the young men and women coming after deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan need to be treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's been estimated that veteran's treatment programs could lose up to $55 billion over the next decade.

A congressional committee still has to decide what will be cut from more than $1 trillion that's on the table in the budget.

And it's not just the young vets. Jesse Aragon was a combat medic in Vietnam and lives at U.S. Vets.

"I needed help and they helped me here a lot," said Aragon. "This place has been a Godsend to me. If it wasn't for this place I'd be dead now. I wanted to kill myself."

Charles Brinkley says he doesn't think he would have made it without help.

"I kind of went spiraling out of control," said Brinkley. "I came to U.S. Vets to get my life back together."

It's all the uncertainty that causes the worry, and the way Congress has designed the next round of cuts they won't know until December whether U.S. Vets is going to be among them.

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