Today VA is the second largest agency of the Federal Government. But before there was a VA, people like us were already responding to the needs of America's veterans.
Our predecessors paid the new world's first disability claims to Plymouth Colonists wounded during Indian attacks. The Continental Congress awarded pensions and land grants to veterans who won our independence 156 years later.
In 1865, almost two million Union veterans came home from the Civil War. In the years after Appomattox, three different veteran's bureaus sprang into being to serve their needs. Eventually the Bureau of War Pensions, the National Soldier's Homes, and the National Battlefield Cemeteries combined into a single, centrally managed government agency.
On July 21, 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed an executive order consolidating three independent bureaus---The Veteran's Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions, and the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers---into a new federal agency. The Veterans Administration -- now the Department of Veterans Affairs -- was born.
Franklin Roosevelt signed the landmark "GI Bill of Rights" on June 22, 1944, two weeks after D-day. 16 million members of the G.I. served in World War II. VA was ready to help them return to civilian life...a life full of new opportunities.
The VA reinvented itself to meet the challenge of the postwar environment. Our healthcare system, research, financial benefit, and education programs underwent a crash expansion. Thanks to our new GI loans, millions of returning vets joined the middle class. Home ownership and a college education weren't just for the privileged anymore.
We're proud of the difference we made in postwar America. We'll never stop looking for ways to make a better future for our vets.
Today our benefits programs are being revised and renewed to meet the needs of servicemen and women from the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Gulf War eras. Here at VA we're still adapting, and we're meeting the emerging challenges of today's war on terror head on.
On March 15, 1989, President Bush elevated the Veterans Administration to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and named VA the 14th Department in his Cabinet.
Top of page