The editorial {Nov. 12} -- saying "no" to efforts to upgrade the Veterans Administration to a Cabinet-level department -- was expected. However, The Post's criticism of veterans' programs as being excessively generous is an insult to America's veterans and a misrepresentation to Post readers.

The Post's premise that many veterans who receive health care for nonservice-connected disabilities at VA facilities could afford to pay for this service is not true. Most veterans using the VA health care system are suffering from a service-connected disability or are simply unable to afford medical care.

Shifting responsibility for veterans' programs to a state government or to other federal programs, as The Post suggests, is not the answer. Placing the veteran in competition for scarce health care resources in the community is a disservice to the veteran and those persons in the community needing medical care.

The VA budget, which provides cost-effective quality health care, is not excessive, as The Post claims. It is a current-services budget, which means it is essentially the same budget as the previous year except funds are increased to cover the costs of inflation.

The American people and Congress have made good and continue to make good their commitment to the veteran. Upgrading the VA to a Cabinet-level department will not cause a distortion in the allocation of federal resources. It is a move that simply recognizes the VA as the largest independent federal agency serving an estimated one-third of our nation's citizens. This elevation to a Cabinet level will provide the recognition that our veterans deserve. COOPER T. HOLT Executive Director Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Washington