In honor of Presidents Day, we recognize the many contributions our American Presidents, a majority of whom served in the military themselves, have made in advancing benefits, education, health care, and more for our Nation’s Veterans. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs is guided by our mission “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan”—a promise originally made by President Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address. Since then, Presidents have made speeches, signed laws, and supported efforts to improve the quality of life for Veterans after serving in war or in peacetimes. It is the noblest mission supporting the greatest clients of any agency in the country—our Veterans.
Following World War I, President Herbert Hoover established the Veterans Administration, uniting three existing bureaus in an effort to better serve Veterans. By the end of World War II, millions of Americans had served for four years or more; some 671,8l7 men and women had been wounded, and 405,399 had been killed. Hundreds of thousands of dependents were left in need. Congress responded in 1944 with the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, the “GI Bill of Rights.” The bill, which transformed the economy and society of the United States, was signed into law by President Roosevelt on June 22.
President Roosevelt also signed the Veterans’ Preference Act of 1944—a bill that gave veterans hiring preference where federal funds were spent. The President was authorized to set aside government jobs for veterans for the duration of the war and for five years afterward.
Recently, President Obama proposed a $168.8 billion budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in fiscal year 2016. The proposed budget will support VA goals to expand access to timely, high quality health care and benefits, continue the transformation of VA into a Veteran-centric department and end homelessness among Veterans.
While the development and continuous improvement of the modern Department of Veterans Affairs has been an ongoing effort of current and former service members, civilians and government officials, the Department has been aided tremendously by the attention and leadership of the highest office in the Nation.
The brightest and the best in health care at VA close the circle of Lincoln’s promise as they continue to provide proactive, personalized, patient-driven health care for our Veterans and enhancement of quality of life for them and their families.
Happy Presidents Day!