I cannot allow the continuing debate concerning the establishment of a Department of Veterans Affairs to end with The Post's second editorial on the subject {"Such a Bad Idea," Nov. 25}. The Post seems to have missed two very important points: 1) the idea of a special department for veterans is such a good idea it is remarkable that it is so long overdue; and 2) the Veterans Administration budget is far from too large -- it is barely enough to meet the legitimate needs of needy veterans who have no other place to turn.

In a Nov. 12 editorial {"No to a Veterans Department"}, The Post said that veterans who were injured as a result of military service should receive health care. Of course, The Post is right, but its editorial position disregards a basic truth about the VA health-care system. Those veterans will continue to receive care, regardless of their ability to pay, because they were injured while in the service of their country.

According to the VA's figures, the rest of the VA health-care population is made up of poor, sick and old veterans. They have no insurance. They have no Social Security. They have no choice but to go to the VA. The Post implied that they could rely on Medicaid, but as The Post knows, Medicaid coverage varies from state to state. Veterans served their country, not their states, and they should be cared for uniformly with a sense of dignity, rather than having to rely on the crapshoot of state-provided medical care.

The VA budget has increased, as has the budget of the rest of the federal government, but the increases have kept the level of services at a straight line over the past decade. Since 1975 the federal budget has increased by more than 200 percent, compared with an increase of 64 percent for the VA. If every other federal agency operated as efficiently as the VA has over the past decade, we would not have to worry about Gramm-Rudman-Hollings or about a federal deficit.

Veterans who receive VA benefits earned them, and they deserve them. As citizens first, and veterans second, we appreciate the ongoing attention to the legitimate needs of veterans who are less fortunate than some of their comrades, and we are confident that veterans' programs will continue to be operated responsibly.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will help to ensure that.

JOHN P. COMER National Commander, The American Legion Washington