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What is the Department of Veterans Affairs?

WASHINGTON_The Department of Veterans Affairs, with 225,000 employees, serves 25 million veterans and their families. Among federal agencies, only the Department of Defense has more employees. There are 57 regional offices.

Each year, it spends more than $60 billion a year on:

_The largest integrated health system in the nation, with a network of hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.

_A disability compensation and pension system that gives monthly checks to more than 3 million veterans or their families.

_Education benefits, including the Montgomery GI Bill.

_A national cemetery system.

_A home loan program.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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