Understanding the Department of Veterans Affairs

Often you may hear “the VA”, yet the understanding of the working components and subgroups of the “the VA” aren’t always clear.  This is a quick reference to the three main subdivisions, known as Administrations, which fall under the umbrella of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

Provides health care in all its forms.

Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCS) – A CBOC is a fixed health care site that is geographically distinct or separate from its parent VA medical facility. A CBOC must have the necessary professional medical staff, access to diagnostic testing and treatment capability, and the referral arrangements needed to ensure continuity of health care for current or eligible veteran patients. VA policies require all CBOCs to be operated in a manner that provides veterans with consistent, safe, high-quality health care.

Contact Locally: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp

Regional Medical Centers – facilities that provide medical care for qualified veterans, service members, and their families.

Washington DC VA Medical Center50 Irving St. NW Washington, DC 20422 202-745-8000 or http://www.washingtondc.va.gov/

Baltimore VA Medical Center: 10 North Greene Street Baltimore, MD 21201 (410) 605-7000 or http://www.maryland.va.gov/facilities/Baltimore_VA_Medical_Center.asp

Office of Research and Development– The department focuses on biomedical and health care research for the care of veterans and wounded service members.

Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)

Responsible for administering the Department’s programs that provide financial and other forms of assistance to Veterans, their dependents, and survivors.  Six major programs and services make up the VBA.

Compensation and Pension Programs — provides direct payments to Veterans, dependents, and survivors as a result of the veteran’s service-connected disability or because of financial need.

Contact: 1-800-827-1000 or inquire electronically at https://iris.va.gov

 Education Programs—provides resources to veterans, service members, reservists, and certain veterans’ dependents to help with readjustment and restore educational opportunities lost because of service to the country, to extend benefits of higher education to qualified persons who may not otherwise be able to afford it, to aid in military recruitment and the retention of highly qualified personnel, to encourage membership in the Selected Reserve, and to enhance the national workforce.

Insurance Programs –provides life insurance at a “standard” premium rate to members of the armed forces who are exposed to the extra hazards of military service. Veterans are eligible to maintain their VA life insurance following discharge.

Loan Guaranty Program – provides assistance to Veterans, certain spouses, and service members to enable them to buy and retain homes. Assistance is provided through VA’s partial guaranty of loans made by private lenders in lieu of the substantial down payment and private mortgage insurance required in conventional mortgage transactions. This protection means that in most cases qualified Veterans can obtain a loan without making a down payment.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program – helps veterans with service-connected disabilities prepare for, find, and keep suitable jobs. For Veterans with service-connected disabilities so severe that they cannot immediately consider work, VR&E offers services to improve their ability to live as independently as possible.

Contact Locally: 202-530-9162 or visit http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/

Vocational and Educational Counseling – a wide range of vocational and educational counseling services to service members still on active duty, as well as Veterans and dependents who are eligible for one of VA’s educational benefit programs. These services are designed to help an individual choose a vocational direction and determine the course needed to achieve the chosen goal.

National Cemetery Administration

Responsible for providing burial and memorial benefits, as well as for maintenance of VA cemeteries.

Contact Locally: 410-923-6981 or http://www.cem.va.gov/, http://www.mdva.state.md.us/about/cemeteriesMemorials.html


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