July 21 is the 81st Anniversary of the creation of the “Veterans Administration.”
Which is what most people still call us even though our official name is the Department of Veterans Affairs. The establishment of the Veterans Administration came in 1930 when Congress authorized the president to “consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans.”
July 3, 1930.
An Act to authorize the President to consolidate and coordinate government activities affecting war veterans.
The President is authorized, by Executive order, to consolidate hospitals and executive and administrative bureaus, for the relief of veterans, into an establishment to be known as the Veterans’ Administration.
President Hoover signed the bill creating the VA on July 21, 1930.
Brigadier General Frank T. Hines, who directed the Veterans Bureau for seven years, was named as the first Administrator of the Veterans Administration, a job he held until 1945.
On July 21, 1930, General Hines and a few of his key staff were invited to the White House to witness the historic event: President Herbert Hoover signing Executive Order 5398 to create the Veterans Administration. An official photo was taken after the signing.
The idea that a government should care for its Veterans has always been an American belief.
From the beginning, the English colonies in North America provided pensions for disabled veterans. The first law in the colonies on pensions, enacted in 1636 by Plymouth, provided money to those disabled in the colony’s defense against Indians.
History buffs will enjoy this 36-page history of the VA: VA History in Brief PDF.
In his second inaugural address in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln called upon Congress “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” This was later adopted as the VA’s motto.
Congress established a new system of Veterans benefits when the United States entered World War I in 1917. Included were programs for disability compensation, insurance for servicepersons and veterans, and vocational rehabilitation for the disabled.
By the 1920s, the various benefits were administered by three different federal agencies: the Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions of the Interior Department, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.
The 1930 Executive Order authorized the second consolidation of Veterans programs and created a new independent administration within the federal government.
The first consolidation actually took place nine years earlier, in 1921, when the Veterans Bureau was established.
The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (for Civil War soldiers) and the Pension Bureau were merged with the Veterans Bureau to form the new Veterans Administration.
Today with more than $118 billion in obligations and approximately 280,000 employees, VA is helping improve the quality of life for America’s Veterans and their families.
VA maintains the largest integrated health care system in America. Today’s VA has implemented new innovative practices to improve Veterans’ access to health care, such as telemedicine and mobile clinics, to provide care to more than 5.6 million unique patients. Our commitment to delivering timely, high-quality health care to America’s Veterans while controlling costs, remains a top priority.