The Post's Aug. 6 editorial on the federal budget, "Faking It," reflected the ridiculous position: "The veterans' health budget could use some cutting."

Funding for veterans' health care has been frozen since passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Ever since, health care inflation has outpaced the Veterans Health Administration's resources. Over the same period, the demand for VA health care has meteorically surpassed the availability of VA health care, a circumstance exacerbated by an aging veterans' population and the systemic abandonment of many retirees whose health care means have diminished with military base closures.

America's patriots endured the spending freeze. Those whose sacrifice forged the peace dividend -- a surplus -- must not continually be denied the benefit of it. Consistent with this moral imperative, the House Appropriations Committee added $1.7 billion to the veterans' health care budget, a spending hike that is close to the American Legion's recommendation. The full House and the Senate must stay the course: Appropriately fund health care for "those who shall have borne the battle."

There is a long-term solution. By adopting all the provisions of the American Legion's GI Bill of Health, Congress might reduce -- but not eliminate -- the system's dependence on tax dollars through third-party funding. The plan's accessibility provisions would allow the system to serve more veterans -- especially retirees and elderly veterans on Medicare -- and veterans' families.

CHESTER F. STELLAR

Commission Chairman

National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation

The American Legion

Washington