Improved Oversight of Independent Living Services and Supports Is Needed

June 7, 2013

What GAO Found

Of the 9,215 veterans who entered the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Independent Living (IL) track within the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program in fiscal years 2008 to 2011, most were male Vietnam era veterans in their 50s or 60s. Almost 60 percent served in the U.S. Army, and fewer than 1 percent served in the National Guard or Reserve. The most prevalent disabilities among these veterans were post-traumatic stress disorder and tinnitus. GAO's review of 182 IL cases from fiscal year 2008 found that VR&E provided a range of IL benefits to veterans. Among these cases, the most common benefits were counseling services and computers. Less common benefits included gym memberships, camping equipment, and a boat. GAO estimated that VR&E spent nearly $14 million on benefits for veterans entering the IL track in fiscal year 2008--an average of almost $6,000 per IL veteran. 

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