Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Evolution of the Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs officially began in 1776. Created by the Continental Congress to provide pensions to soldiers in the Revolutionary War, the Department traces its roots back to the Plymouth Colony in 1636, and has provided American veterans with an ever-expanding package of benefits and health care services.

After the US Congress expanded and consolidated veterans’ services in 1924 and in 1928, President Herbert Hoover signed into law Executive Order 5398 in 1930 and promoted the Veterans Bureau to a federal administration. This created the Veterans Administration, which was an even more consolidated and expansive veterans’ benefits program. Smaller parts of the Veterans Bureau, such as the National Homes and the Pension Bureau, also joined the Administration. Brigadier General Frank T. Hines became the first Administrator of the modern Department of Veterans Affairs.

World War II brought many more soldiers to Veterans Affairs, with Congress passing laws providing veterans with more services, the most famous of which was the GI Bill, which allowed returning soldiers to attend college tuition-free and receive federal home loans. The VA administered the benefits from the GI Bill, signed into law on June 22, 1944. Scholars now argue that the GI Bill has affected the American way of life more than any law since the Homestead Act of 1862.

Susan M. Taylor is proud to be a part of the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was the Deputy Chief Procurement Officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, for four and a half years before she retired in November 2014.