United States Department of Veterans Affairs

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Dept. of Veterans Affairs
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Seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs


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Established:October 25, 1988
Activated:March 15, 1989
SecretaryJames Nicholson
Deputy Secretary:Gordon H. Mansfield
Budget:$60.3 billion (2004)
Employees:218,323 (2004)

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a Cabinet department of the United States government responsible for administering programs of veterans benefits for veterans, their families, and survivors.

It is administered by the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Contents

History

It was formerly called the Veterans Administration, also called the VA, which was established July 21, 1930 to consolidate and coordinate government activities affecting war veterans. The VA incorporated the functions of the former U.S. Veterans' Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions of the Interior Department and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.

On October 25, 1988, President Reagan signed legislation creating a new federal Cabinet-level Department of Veterans Affairs to replace the Veterans Administration effective March 15, 1989.

In both its old and new forms, the VA drew its mission statement from President Abraham Lincoln's eloquent Second Inaugural Address. The specific phrase quoted by VA is: "...to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan..."

Function

It is the federal government's second largest department, after the Department of Defense. With a budget of more than $60 billion, VA employs approximately 219,000 people at hundreds of VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices, and national cemeteries throughout the country. It is one of the largest employers of healthcare personnel in the U.S. VA claims that one-fourth of all American physicians worked in a VA facility at some point in their training.

Reputation

Because of chronic underfunding, VA has had to become more conservative in the provision of benefits over the past five decades. Currently, VA only provides complete comprehensive services at no cost to the most seriously disabled soldiers, with war injuries like amputations or loss of an eye. Soldiers with less serious injuries must pay out-of-pocket co-payments for service at VA facilities.

In November 2004, it was widely reported that VA's funding crisis has become so severe that it can no longer provide disability ratings to veterans in a timely fashion. This is a problem because until veterans are fully transitioned from the Department of Defense to VA, they are on their own with regard to many healthcare costs.

Operating functions

  • Compensation and Pension
  • Education and Training - GI Bill
  • Medical Care - VA Hospitals
  • Research
  • Home Loan Assistance
  • Insurance
  • National Cemeteries

Related legislation

See also

External links


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