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President Obama requested $152.7 billion for the Veterans Affairs Department in Fiscal 2014, a 10.2 percent increase compared to Fiscal 2013, according to a VA release. The request supports VA's goals to expand access to health care and other benefits and, by 2015, to eliminate the disability claims backlog and end homelessness among veterans, according to the April 10 release. It includes $66.5 billion in discretionary spending, largely for healthcare, and $86.1 billion for mandatory programs, mostly disability compensation and pensions for veterans, states the release. The proposed funding increase, in combination with the VA's exemption from budget sequestration, reflects the nation's commitment to veterans, emphasized Tommy Sowers, assistant VA secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. "Veterans and veterans' issues [have] been something Congress has been able to come together on," he said. (Includes AFPS report by Donna Miles)