Mondragon. Information Specialist
"I, _____, do solemnly swear
that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against
all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance
to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United
States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to
regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
(Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May
1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5
the oath taken by civilians who choose the life of military service is an
unspoken commitment and readiness to the possibility of an altered state of
being, whether physical or mental, sometimes both. Some who have chosen to defend something
precious to them, their country and fight for freedom have been forever changed
by engaging in conflict. The
result: physical and mental disabilities
and the need to find ways to adapt with programs and services. This is where the Veterans Administration
(VA) comes in, this agency has a long history of growth and change with each
conflict military members have faced to compensate with benefits and provide
needed services and care to disabled veterans.
military members trace back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were
at war with the Pequot Indians. The
Pilgrims passed a law which stated that disabled soldiers would be supported by
the colony they defended.
Continental Congress established the nation’s first pension law in 1776 and
granted soldiers who lost limbs half pay for life. The War of 1812 extended benefits to
dependents and survivors. The American Civil War (1861 – 1865), was responsible
for 30,000 amputations in Union Army alone, however, Confederate soldiers did
not receive federal veterans’ benefits until 1958. The General Pension Act of 1862 provided
disability payments based on rank and degree of disability and included, for
the first time, compensation for diseases such as tuberculosis incurred while
emergence of the Veterans Administration (VA) was heard when in President
Lincoln addressed Congress in 1865, “to
care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan
.” This was later adopted as part of the VA’s
increased, the Veterans Administration recognized the necessity of benefits and
World War I
War Risk Insurance Act Amendments of 1917 established rehabilitation and
vocational training for veterans with dismemberment, sight, hearing, and other
for veterans rose 62 percent from 1924 to 1932, increases in disability
compensation and increases in pensions for veterans of the Civil War and the
World War II
returning from World War II at first found difficulty obtaining artificial
limbs. The VA became a world leader in
the development of prosthetic devices.
passed the most significant pieces of legislation ever produced by the federal
government, the GI Bill of Rights, a comprehensive benefits package to aid the
transition of 16 million returning veterans.
the outbreak of the Korean Conflict, Congress passed the Vocational
Rehabilitation Act of 1950, which reactivated vocational rehabilitation for
veterans of the new war and extended the program to peacetime veterans.
differences of Vietnam-era veterans from those of earlier wars was the larger
percentage of disabled and the anti-war climate at home presented special
readjustment problems for returning veterans.
In 1966, Congress passed the Veterans’ Readjustment
Act, called the Vietnam GI Bill. This
educational benefit proved to be highly successful. Agent Orange also posed heath concerns which
eventually were only recognized in veterans but have since extended to children
of Vietnam veterans who face an elevated risk of birth defects.
response to the growth in the number of women veterans, VA has expanded medical
facilities and services for women and increased efforts to inform them that
they are equally entitled to veteran’s benefits. The Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 provided
authority for a variety of gender specific services and programs to care for
Persian Gulf War
1993, Congress authorized medical care for Gulf War veterans for conditions
related to exposure to toxic substances or environmental hazards.
Global War on Terrorism
2006, VA hired 100 veterans to inform other returning veterans of services
available to deal with the stress of combat, including professional
readjustment counseling for war trauma, family readjustment counseling, and
other social readjustment problems for those returning Operation Iraqi Freedom
and Operation Enduring Freedom and their families.
VA is a world leader in research areas such as spinal-cord injury, amputation
care, prosthetics, blind rehabilitation, aging, women’s health, AIDS, Agent
Orange exposure, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.