The Post is right to resist the political clamor for a Cabinet-level Department of Veterans' Affairs {editorial, Nov. 12}. President Reagan's recent endorsement of this bad idea was the final capitulation necessary to make this bipartisan bow to special interests complete.

This idea merely panders to veterans' groups without doing anything substantive for them. No one denies that the United States owes a debt of thanks to those who have risked life and limb in our nation's defense. Furthermore, veterans are justified in demanding more of the Veterans Administration, which is inefficient and cumbersome. But a Department of Veterans' Affairs would be no panacea.

Proponents of the idea claim that a Cabinet-level veterans' department would increase the visibility and accountability of veterans' programs. These supporters paint a rosy picture of regular Cabinet meetings complete with a strong advocate to advise the president on the problems and needs of veterans.

They forget that we have tried this sort of thing before: the Department of Energy was created during the Carter administration to guide the nation's energy policy. Under the Reagan administration, however, the Department of Energy has done little more than test nuclear weapons in Nevada and publish studies with the consistent theme of plundering the environment. Renewable energy research and conservation programs have been swept under the rug. It is clear that a Cabinet-level department is no substitute for presidential interest and concern.

Washington officials are forever debating the kind of "signal" their policy choices will send. The signal the proposed Department of Veterans' Affairs would send is that Cabinet status is the new litmus test for importance. Congress is already considering legislation to grant Cabinet status to the administrator of the Small Business Administration and the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Why not a Department of Social Security? Why not a secretary of Homelessness? DANIEL J. JOURDAN Arlington