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History of the VA

Before the United States was even an independent nation, soldiers who have fought to protect have been cared for. During the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress set out to provide pensions for soldiers who became disabled due to war related injuries. Following the Civil War, states began to establish homes to care for veterans.

During the major World Wars of the 20th century, the need to take care of veterans became very evident. In 1917 and 1944 Congress took important steps to create many additional benefits for service men and women returning home from service. Over time, the United States has established the Department of Veterans Affairs to help manage these benefits for veterans.

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History of the VA

History of the VA

Pre-1775 The idea of the U.S. providing care for its soldiers dates back to 1636, when the pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were battling the Pequot Indians.

1776 - In an effort to encourage enlistment during the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress provides pensions to soldiers who became disabled as a result of service. In addition, individual states and communities provided medical care to soldiers during the war.

1811 - The federal government authorizes the first medical care facilities for veterans.

1815 - \"Washington Crossing the Delaware,\" a painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, depicts a famous scene of the American Revolutionary War.

1834 - The first federally funded medical facilities for veterans open.

1865 - After the conclusion of the Civil War, many states begin establishing homes for veteran care.

1917 - When the U.S. enters World War I, Congress creates a new system of benefits for soldiers and veterans. This system includes disability compensation, insurance and vocational rehabilitation.

1920 - At this point, benefits for veterans are handled by three separate agencies: the Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions in the Department of the Interior and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.

1930 - Congress authorizes the president to consolidate government activities affecting veterans into a single administrative body. The then-director of the Veterans Bureau, Brigadier Gen. Frank T. Hines, is named administrator of the newly formed Veterans Administration. He will hold this post until 1945.

June 22, 1944 - Congress passes the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, a key move that creates additional benefits for veterans.

1973 - The U.S. switches to an \"all-volunteer force,\" ending conscription. Meanwhile, the Veterans Administration assumes control of the National Cemetery System from the Department of the Army (with the exception of Arlington National Cemetery).

March 15, 1989 - President George H.W. Bush establishes the Department of Veterans Affairs as a cabinet level position. Says Bush: \"There is only one place for the veterans of America, in the Cabinet Room, at the table with the President of the United States of America.\"

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