What is the 'Veterans Administration'

The Veterans Administration was formerly an independent government agency founded in 1930, at the height of the Great Depression. 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'

The former Veterans Administration, or VA, was known to be a reliable provider of home loans for qualified applicants. That reputation still holds of the current Department of Veterans Affairs. 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 will vary, depending on the time period 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. The VA-guaranteed home loan is one of very few 0% down payment loans available in the United States. (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 these benefits, and benefits are not available to those with outstanding felony warrants.

Services provided by the Department

As per its web site, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs operates a national health care system that includes more than 1,700 hospitals, as well as clinics, community living centers, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers and other facilities.

The VA also runs 135 national cemeteries throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, providing burial and memorial benefits for all eligible service members, Veterans and family members.

The Department makes available a variety of benefits and services that provide financial assistance and other forms of help to Service members, Veterans, their dependents and survivors. The services include compensation, education and training, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation and job placement assistance.

(For more information, Veterans and their families can visit the government web site: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

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