The Veterans Administration was established July 21, 1930, by President Herbert C. Hoover to provide federal benefits to veterans and their dependents. The nation's veteran population is more than 27 million -- 36 percent World War II veterans, 30 percent Vietnam veterans and 18 percent veterans of the Korean conflict. Altogether, 79.3 million Americans -- veterans, dependents and survivors of deceased veterans -- are potentially eligible for benefits and services.

The VA's $27 billion-a-year budget goes for:

Compensation and Pensions: Nearly 3 million veterans receive disability, death or pension payments of about $14 billion annually.

Education and Training: More than 8 million veterans attended college under the GI Bill and almost 10 million have received technical, farm and other training.

Medical Care: The VA runs the nation's largest medical care system, with 172 medical centers, 229 outpatient clinics and 117 nursing homes. Since 1979, the VA has operated a nationwide system of Vet Centers that provide counseling for Vietnam veterans. VA research efforts include the development of robotic arms, omnidirectional wheelchairs and aids for diminished vision.

Other Assistance: The VA operates a home-loan guaranty program, a life insurance program and the National Cemetery System, composed of 111 cemeteries in 38 states and Puerto Rico.