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Veterans Affairs Department

Board Of Veterans' Appeals, Board Of Contract Appeals, Health Services, Veterans Benefits, Compensation And Pension

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) operates programs to benefit veterans and members of their families. Benefits include compensation payments for disabilities or death related to military service, pensions, education, and rehabilitation. The VA also guarantees home loans, provides burial services for veterans, and operates a medical care program that includes nursing homes, clinics, and medical centers. Located in Washington, D.C., the VA in 2003 had 224,724 employees, a workforce second in size only to the DEFENSE DEPARTMENT. The department's projected budget for FY 2003 was 459.6 billion.

The Department of Veterans Affairs was established in 1989 as an executive department by the Department of Veterans Affairs Act (38 U.S.C.A. § 201 note). Its establishment came after more than 24 years of effort by members of Congress to elevate the department's predecessor, the Veterans Administration, to cabinet status. Proponents argued that promotion to cabinet level would increase the political accountability of the VA and improve the quality of its services. The Veterans Administration was established as an independent agency by

presidential EXECUTIVE ORDER No. 5398 of July 21, 1930, in accordance with the act of July 3, 1930 (46 Stat. 1016). This act authorized the president to consolidate and coordinate the U.S. Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions, and the National Home for Volunteer Soldiers.

The Department of Veterans Affairs consists of three organizations that administer veterans' programs: the Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans Benefits Administration, and the National Cemetery System. Each organization has field facilities and a central office. Each central office also includes separate offices that provide support to the organization's operations as well as to VA executives. Central office managers, including the inspector general and general counsel, report to the highest level of department management, which consists of the secretary of veterans affairs and the deputy secretary.

FURTHER READINGS

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Available online at <www.va.gov> (accessed August 16, 2003).

——. 2003. Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents. 2d ed. Indianapolis: JIST.

U.S. Government Manual Website. Available online at <www.gpoaccess.gov/gmanual> (accessed November 10, 2003).

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