What Is a VA Hospital?

VA or Veteran's Administration hospitals provide health care services to veterans of all branches of the United States military, at little to no cost. Veterans are required to have served for at least 24 months prior to enrollment, unless a permanent injury occurs within that timeframe. The Veteran's Health Administration consists of hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and clinics. VA hospitals are specifically designed to tend to traumatic and post-traumatic injuries and conditions that are common among military personnel.

At VA hospitals, care is triaged based on classification of severity. Veterans are divided into several classes, some of which include those injured in combat, those needing amputations and prosthetics, and those needing psychiatric or emotional care. Veterans who can afford their own health insurance are on the lower priority end of the VA's care process. Veterans who can afford outside insurance are encouraged to utilize other facilities in an effort to not create unnecessary wait times for patients needing to use VA hospitals.

The first veterans' hospital was established in 1778 under American government, with an origin of military care dating back to Roman times. The first Federal facility for the care of veterans was established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812.