The Secretary of Veteran Affairs oversees the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in its mission to provide health, education, disability, funerary, and financial benefits earned by veterans of the United States Armed Forces. It is a Cabinet position appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate. The Department of Veterans Affairs was established in 1988 by the Department of Veterans Affairs Act and consists of three subordinate organizations: the Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans Benefits Administration, and the Veterans Cemetery Administration. President Obama’s selection of retired U.S. Army General Erik Shinseki to this post continued the tradition of veterans serving in this post.
Veterans Health Administration
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs operates one of the largest medical systems in the world through the Veterans Health Administration. This system include hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. Services at these facilities provide veterans and family members with the medical care often incurred as a result of service to their country. In addition to medical treatment, the Veterans Health Administration funds and conducts a variety of research efforts to address the medical needs of veterans.
Veterans Benefits Administration
The Veterans Benefits Administration overseas the wide range of benefits earned through service in the armed forces. Among these benefits is the GI Bill, an educational benefit earned through financial contributions and length of service by service members. Another important benefit is the home loan guaranty, which provides assistance toward a veteran’s purchase of a home.
National Cemetery Administration
Service members are eligible for internment in the nation’s national cemeteries upon death. The National Cemetery Administration through the direction of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs manages and cares for the national cemeteries distributed through the United States. This agency also ensures veterans receive the funeral benefit earned through years of service.
- veterans cemetery image by Jeffrey Zalesny from Fotolia.com