DEFINITION of 'Veterans Administration'

The Veterans Administration was formerly an independent government agency founded in 1930. Commonly referred to as "the VA," the organization provided patient care, veterans' benefits, and other services to veterans of the U.S. armed forces and their families. It also provided this group with disability compensation for those who were injured or contracted a disease while serving, education and training, medical, surgical, and rehabilitative care, readjustment counseling, bereavement counseling, surviving spouse benefits, care and benefits to homeless veterans, medical research, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation, headstones/burial markers, and home loan assistance. In 1988, it became a U.S. cabinet department called the Department of Veterans Affairs.

BREAKING DOWN 'Veterans Administration'

To be eligible for a VA-guaranteed home loan, veterans must have served on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marines. The specific service requirements vary, depending on the time during which a veteran served. A certificate of eligibility is required to obtain a VA loan, and the loan can be obtained through any mortgage lender who participates in the VA home loan program. This is one of very few 0% down payment loans available (The USDA Rural Housing Loan is another – see How to Get a No-Down-Payment Mortgage). Veterans who were dishonorably discharged, as well as the imprisoned and parolees, may not be eligible for benefits, and benefits are not available to those with outstanding felony warrants.

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