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The History of U.S. Veterans’ Benefits

The federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) is responsible for providing benefits and services to our veterans, their families, and survivors. According to its website, the mission of the VA is “to serve America’s veterans and their families with dignity and compassion and to be their principal advocate in ensuring that they receive medical care, benefits, social support, and lasting memorials promoting the health, welfare, and dignity of all veterans in recognition of their service to this nation.”

Unfortunately, securing rightful VA benefits can be challenging and frustrating for veterans and their families. Many experience long delays and have difficulty proving their eligibility. The VA was understaffed and underfunded to adequately process the surge in claims from recent wars, and the agency continues to struggle with the timeliness and correctness of benefits decisions.

Once benefits are secured, some veterans are still experiencing low-quality or inadequate services. If you experience difficulty in obtaining quality veterans’ benefits, a veterans’ benefits lawyer such as one from Johnston Law Offices P.C. in Edwardsville, IL, may be able to assist you.

The Origins of the VA

Medical and social challenges associated with veterans returning from wars are age-old and worldwide problems. Even before the establishment of this country, the early colonies paid disability pensions to soldiers injured in skirmishes with Native Americans. Later, the Continental Congress gave pensions and land grants to some Revolutionary War veterans. Various pension and benefits programs evolved until the Civil War, which produced an additional almost two million Union veterans. This surge in need produced enhanced pensions, disability compensation, medical care, housing services, and the national cemetery program. Confederate veterans and their survivors were finally served by the federal government in 1958.

The Modern Agency

The motto of today’s VA comes from Lincoln’s 1864 second inaugural address in which he implored Congress “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.” Over the next 50 years, several federal agencies were responsible for providing veterans’ benefits and services. In 1930, all veterans’ issues were assigned to a single new agency: The Veterans’ Administration (VA).

By signing the GI Bill in 1944, Roosevelt expanded veterans’ benefits significantly for the millions of US veterans of World War II and their dependents. The GI Bill introduced programs for education assistance; home, business and farm loans; and unemployment compensation. The resulting stimulus to the economy contributed to the development of a strong American middle class and spacious new suburbs.

The Veterans’ Administration became the Department of Veterans Affairs (also known as the VA) when the agency was elevated to presidential cabinet status in 1989. The modern VA still serves veterans of earlier wars and their survivors and dependents, as well as today’s returning veterans and their families.


If you are struggling to obtain veterans’ benefits from the VA or from your state veterans’ agency, a veterans’ benefits lawyer from Johnston Law Offices P.C. in Edwardsville, IL, can answer your questions.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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