If you’re a Veteran or a Veteran’s loved one, you may wonder what VA stands for (Veterans Affairs) and what the Department of Veterans Affairs’s purpose is. Let’s look at the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs and how the U.S. government has assisted its Veterans throughout its history. This should offer you a better understanding of how the VA operates and why it offers the benefits and services that it does.
Understanding the VA’s Beginnings
The U.S. federal government has been providing pensions and health services to Veterans since the early days of our country. For example, the Continental Congress provided pensions to disabled Revolutionary War soldiers back in 1776. Similarly, the federal government authorized the first medical facility for Veterans in 1811. However, the American Civil War and World War I are the two major conflicts that established the VA’s first real modern beginnings.
Towards the end of the Civil War, President Lincoln signed legislation that established a national soldiers and sailors asylum for Union Veterans of the war. This was the first-ever national healthcare facility dedicated to serving honorably discharged Veterans of war. It was later renamed the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The VA’s National Cemetery Administration also began after the Civil War, and it had buried over 300,000 Union soldiers in 73 national cemeteries by 1870.
These measures help set the first precedents for some of the VA’s current benefits and services, but the two World Wars helped shape the VA’s offerings even more.
How World War I Shaped the VA
The United States government had to change and improve the benefits and services they offered Veterans in and after 1917, when the U.S. entered World War I. The first World War was the first war that used machinery instead of close combat to decimate the enemy. Weapons that made their debut in World War I, such as mustard gas, left surviving soldiers with internal injuries and levels of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD; then called “shell shock”) that no one had seen before. In response, the federal government created a new system of Veterans’ benefits that included disability compensation, insurance, and vocational rehabilitation for World War I Veterans. The U.S. government also consolidated the federal agencies administering these benefits and services during this time to create the Veterans Bureau, which brought them one step closer to creating the modern VA.
How World War II Changed Veterans’ Benefits and Services
Between the two World Wars, President Hoover consolidated the Veterans Bureau with the National Homes and Pension Bureau to create the Veterans Administration in 1930. However, the G.I. Bill is what really improved and transformed the services and benefits Veterans received. The G.I. Bill was passed in June 1944, during the last year of World War II. This legislation gave the Veterans Administration a major funding and personnel boost, and it gave service members and Veterans access to many new benefits, including home loans and college education payments. The VA Home Loan Guaranty Program is the only G.I. Bill program that is still active, but it’s important to note that the G.I. Bill really did transform Veterans’ lives. It gave them services and benefits that provided a solid foundation for Veterans to start new lives after they completed their military service.
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How the Modern VA Was Established
At the end of World War II, the Veterans Administration was not yet a cabinet-level department the way it is today. It remained an administration until 1988. When was the Department of Veterans Affairs created? President Ronald Reagan signed legislation in 1988 that created the Department of Veterans Affairs, allowing the federal government to expand the VA’s services and benefits and reach more armed forces Veterans than ever before.
How Does AVCC Work With the VA?
AVCC works with the VA when we submit our Veteran clients’ applications for the VA’s Aid and Attendance pension benefit. We help all our Veterans fill out the forms and after we submit the applications, we contact the VA to make sure the applications move through the approval process quickly and effectively. We keep a VA-accredited attorney on staff to ensure that each application meets the VA’s strict requirements. Trust us to stay in touch with the VA and help you receive the pension benefits you’ve earned.
Connect to the VA Through AVCC
Reach out to AVCC today to begin the Aid and Attendance application process. We have the resources and experience needed to move your application through the VA’s approval process.