Established in 1989, the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) provides federal benefits to US military
veterans and their families. The agency is the second largest of
the 15 cabinet departments and offers health-care, financial
assistance, and burial benefits programs. More than 60 million
people -- veterans, their family members, and survivors of veterans
-- are eligible for the VA's benefits. Each year the VA's annual
budget is around $125 billion, which typically includes about $40
billion going toward its medical programs and the rest for
disability and pensions. Other benefits include education
assistance, home loans, life insurance, and vocational
The agency is requesting a budget of $140 billion for
The most visible of the VA's services is its medical care
system. The agency operates some 150 hospitals and 1,000
clinics and care facilities across the country. The VA also
maintains some 130 national cemeteries and that number is growing.
It puts aside around $250 million each year for maintenance and
operations for its cemeteries.
The Department of Veterans Affairs was established to
replace the Veterans Administration, which was created in
1930. Under its predecessor the first GI Bill began in 1944.