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Facts about the Veterans Administration

By Ron Montonye - Pierce County Veterans Service Officer | Sep 26, 2020

With roots traceable back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony passed a law that provided for disabled soldiers, the United States has created the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans of any nation in the world.

Since then, we’ve seen support for veterans grow from pensions for disabled Revolutionary War soldiers in 1776, to the first medical facility authorized by the federal government in 1811, to extended benefits and pensions for widows and dependents of veterans in the 19th century. In 1917, veterans saw new benefits when the U.S. entered World War I, including disability compensation, insurance, and vocational rehabilitation for the disabled. In the 1920s the benefits were administered by three different agencies. They were consolidated into the Veterans Administration in 1930.

The responsibilities and benefit programs at the new administration grew during the following six decades to include the World War II GI Bill. In 1973, the National Cemetery System became a part of the VA. The Department of Veterans Affairs Act of 1988 elevated the administration into the Cabinet-level department we know today.

From the founding of our nation to present day, the VA is able to continue to honor and serve our Nation’s promises to our veterans. Fulfilling that sacred trust is the mission of today’s VA. It has nearly 340,000 employees, approximately 32 percent of whom are veterans themselves.

The above information was taken from a website. It also included several little-known facts in regard to the history of the VA that you may not know. Here are a few of them.

– Irene Triplett, born in 1930, just passed away on May 31, 2020. She was the last recipient of an American Civil War pension. Her father had fought for both the Confederacy and later the Union in the Civil War. Irene’s father was 83 years old when he married Irene’s mother and 84 when Irene was born. Since the death of her father in 1938, Irene collected $73.13 per month from the VA. The total amount she received in her lifetime was about $73,000. She was eligible to inherit her father’s pension due to cognitive impairments she suffered, qualifying her as a helpless child of a veteran.

– The VA still cares for more than 100 children and spouses of Spanish-American War veterans, and more than 4,000 children and spouses of World War I veterans.

– Slightly over 11 million of the approximately 22 million veterans in this country are registered, enrolled, or use at least one VA benefit or service.

-The VA pioneered electronical medical records. In 1996, “VistA,” also known as the Computerized Patient Record System, was fully implemented.

– The James J. Peters VA Medical Center, in Bronx, New York, is located on the highest point in New York City.

– The world’s first successful liver transplant was performed at the Denver VA Medical Center by pioneering surgeon Dr.Thomas E. Starzl, a World War II Navy veteran.

-The Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma, was the first VA medical center to be named after a Native American.

– The VA Medical Center in Togus, Maine, was once a summer resort known as Togus Springs. It boasted a hotel, stables, bowling alley, farmhouse, bathing house, and race track.

– In the 1930s, the Doris Miller VA Medical Center in Waco, Texas, produced 2,400 pounds of ice daily from its ice plant.

– The VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was a half-hour, horse-drawn buggy ride from downtown Milwaukee.

– VA’s first African American hospital director, Lt. Col. Joseph Henry Ward, M.D., ran the Tuskegee VA Medical Center in the 1920s.

– Many VA medical centers got their start as tuberculosis (TB) facilities. William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, was the first of VA’s TB hospitals.

Since the founding of the United States, our Presidents and government leaders have remained focused on their important role of caring for our nation’s veterans. May this always be the case, not just with them, but with all our citizens. May we continue the highest level of care for our veterans and their families so it will be the best of any country in the world. Our veterans have earned this. Finally, may the words of Abraham Lincoln, spoken at his Second Inaugural Address in 1865 always ring true:

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.”

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