About the VA
The United States government began serious consolidated services to
veterans in 1930. The GI Bill of Rights, which was passed in 1944,
had more effect on the American way of life than any other
legislation - with the possible exception of the Homestead Act.
However, it was 38 USC that actually created the Department of
Veterans Affairs as we know it today. This is a cabinet-level
position in the government.
The VA operates through state-based regional and national offices.
Applications are reviewed at the national offices.
However, the actual VA "intake" mechanism is not a function of the
VA itself. Since the 1950's the VA has used a network of what has
now grown to over 110 agencies that provide Veterans Service
Officers or "VSO's".
VSO's are accredited by the VA, but are not employees of
the VA. The VA does not operate any local offices where a potential
applicant or their families can inquire about benefit eligibility.
Examples of VSO sponsors are the: VFW, DAV, Red Cross, American
Legion, many Councils on Aging, and all state government Departments
of Veterans Affairs. When you inquire about benefit eligibility, you
are not speaking with the VA itself. The VA actually advises
potential applicants to interview VSO's before engaging them to
assist in their application process.
How Efficient is the Veterans Administration?
In 2004, the Government Accounting Office (the investigative arm of
Congress) conducted an investigation of the VA and its efficiency.
This was essentially a secret, internal report.
However, in 2005 the Knight-Ridder News Agency (at that time the
largest news organization in the United States) learned of the study
and sued under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy. This
information lead to a series of news articles published by
Knight-service in newspapers across the country in 2005.
The conclusions of the GAO report were startling. The findings of
the report indicated that information provided through the VSO
network and the VA's 800 number system was "totally, minimally,
partially, or mostly incorrect" a staggering 80% of the time. This
means a potential applicant can expect to receive incorrect
information regarding benefit eligibility 8 out of 10 times.
As a result, many duly qualified applicants are told by the VSO/VA
network that they are not qualified to receive benefits, when the
opposite is true.
The study also found that only 19% of the answers provided were
"completely correct". A common theme with inquiries was "rude,
dismissive, unprofessional, and unhelpful" behavior on the part of
those providing information.
Should I try to file a VA claim by myself?
In our opinion and strongly reinforced by the VA, the answer is
"No." The VA recognizes three groups to assist veterans in the
preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims: The accredited
Veterans Service Officer's (VSO), claims agents and VA accredited
attorneys. The claims process can be very frustrating if you have
not been trained and do not understand the law. Therefore, you may
unnecessarily be denied due to incorrectly presented information.
Your claim may also take many more months to complete because of
information request and exchanges between you and the VA. We
strongly recommend that you use the services of a VA accredited
individual or organization, which includes state and county veterans
service agencies. There is no fee for using an accredited resource.
For more information please contact us
or go to our frequently asked questions
For more information about the VA go to
Timeliness of Content
Because of the complexity of applicable VA statutes,
regulations, and internal claim development issues, it is impossible
to keep this website fully updated at all times. Therefore, we
cannot take responsibility for the current accuracy of the
information presented here. For the most updated information, please
contact a your Senior Veterans Advocate.
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