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Working for the Department of Veterans Affairs (Part 1)

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a vast array of career paths available including all health care occupations and many support, administrative, and management opportunities.

We will be doing a 6 part series about the VA and the tremendous opportunities that are available. The VA is the largest employer of medical specialties. However, there are other agencies that hire medical workers including Health and Human Services (HHS) Federal Prison Jobs with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and the Department of Defense (DOD).


VA Medical Facility
VA Medical Facility

The Veteran’s Administration staffs 153 medical centers, 135 nursing homes, over 900 ambulatory and community-based outpatient clinics, Veterans centers at 232 locations, 47 counseling centers, and 108 home-care programs. These facilities are located nationwide including the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. They are also the largest employer of Federal Nursing Jobs in this country. The VA states that. “over 7.9 million Veterans, family members, and survivors are enrolled in the VA health system, with more than 6.3 million seeking treatment each year. Currently, annual treatment involves 773,600 inpatient visits and 60 million outpatient visits. About 250,000 full-time employees and 90,000 health professional trainees work in interdisciplinary care teams to deliver those patient services daily.”

The VA employs 239,299 workers and operates programs to benefit veterans and their families. Benefits include disability compensation payments or death related to military service; education; pensions; rehabilitation; home loan guaranty; burial; and medical care programs incorporating nursing homes, clinics, and medical centers. The VA employs physicians, and all medical specialties under the VA’s excepted merit system. This does not require civil service eligibility.

Mission of the VA

To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.


The U.S. has the most comprehensive system of assistance for Veterans of any nation in the world. As early as 1636, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with the Pequot Indians. The Pilgrims passed a law that stated that disabled soldiers would be support by the colony.

During the Revolutionary War the Continental Congress of 1776 supported providing pensions for disabled soldiers. As the Republic continued, the individual states and communities provided medical and hospital care to Veterans. In 1811, the federal government authorized the first domiciliary and medical facility for Veterans. During the 19th century, the Veterans assistance program was expanded to include benefits, pensions to both the Veterans and for widows and dependents.

As our country entered into World War I, Congress established a new system of Veterans benefits to include disability compensation, insurance for service personnel and Veterans, and vocational rehabilitation for the disabled.

In the 1920’s, there were 3 different federal agencies that were administering various benefits. In 1921, Congress authorized the first consolidation of Veterans programs. The second consolidation was in 1930, and President Herbert Hoover signed Executive Order 5398 and this elevated the Veterans Bureau to a federal administration, and thus created the Veterans Administration.

The VA was elevated to a cabinet-level executive department by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The Veterans Administration was renamed to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Administration Programs in the VA

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is America’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving 8.76 million Veterans each year.

It the largest of their three administrations and it continues to meet Veterans’ changing medical, surgical, and quality-of-life needs. It provides new programs for treatment of traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, suicide prevention, women Veterans and more.

The VA has opened outpatient clinics, and established telemedicine and other services to accommodate a diverse Veteran population, and continues to cultivate ongoing medical research and innovation to improve the lives of America’s patriots. VHA operates one of the largest health care systems in the world and provides training for a majority of America’s medical, nursing, and allied health professionals.

Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)

The Veterans Benefits Administration(VBA) administers the VA programs that provide financial and other forms of assistance to Veterans, their dependents, and survivors. Major benefits include Veterans’ compensation, Veterans’ pension, survivors’ benefits, rehabilitation and employment assistance, education assistance, home loan guaranties, and life insurance coverage.

These programs include the Compensation and Pension programs, Education Program, Insurance Program, The Loan Guaranty Program, and The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program

National Cemetery Administration (NCA)

The National Cemetery Administration(NCA) has 147 national cemeteries in all, with new cemeteries in development. Through NCA, VA administers 131 of them. There are 2 national cemeteries, Arlington and the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery are still maintained by the Department of the Army. Fourteen national cemeteries are maintained by the Department of the Interior. More than 3.7 million people, including Veterans of every war and conflict, from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are honored by burial in the VA’s national cemeteries.

Today more than 22 million living Veterans have earned the honor of burial in a national cemetery, including the more than 350 Medal of Honor recipients buried in VA cemeteries. More than 19,000 acres of land are devoted to the memorialization of those who served this nation.

In part 2 of this 6 part series, we will be covering the Registered Nurse (GS-0600) occupational series.See Nursing Jobs for additional information.

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

About The Author

A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. Boyd was an Acquisition Manager/IT Manager/ Project Manager during her 30-year career. Boyd also served as a supervisor and team leader during her career. In 2012 Boyd founded a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services to clients and companies. For more information about these writing services see the following website: http://www.BettyBoydWriting.com/. Betty attended Athens State University, Athens, AL and received a B.B.A. in Management of Technology in 2000. She received her Masters of Science degree from Syracuse University with a concentration in Information Management in 2007. Boyd is a certified Level III contracting professional and she received a Masters level certificate in Project Management from the National Defense University in 2008.