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American veterans can receive a wide range of medical care services from federal and state governments. Although they can choose health care programs from the Department of Defense under specific conditions, this entry focuses on the federal service provider that exclusively treats former soldiers and their families—the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Historical Overview

There is no record of a federal hospital giving medical care to veterans as its primary purpose before the First World War other than incidental medical facilities in the custodial institutions founded in 1865 for the indigent and/or elderly disabled Union soldiers of the Civil War (i.e., the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers). When the War Risk Insurance Act of 1917 gave monetary support to disabled Great War veterans and survivors of ...

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