WASHINGTON – Vice President Dick Cheney (search), standing with veterans to mark the 75th anniversary of the government agency created to serve them, said Thursday "we cannot predict the length or the course of the War on Terror."
"We have no illusions about the difficulty of engaging enemies that dwell in the shadows, target the innocent, and recognize neither the laws of warfare nor standards of morality," Cheney said. Nonetheless, Cheney said, the United States will "persevere and prevail."
Joined on stage by veterans from World War I through the Iraq war, Cheney was featured speaker at the ceremony marking the diamond anniversary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
On July 21, 1930, President Hoover signed an executive order to create the Veterans Administration. Former President Ronald Reagan elevated the agency to Cabinet level and made it the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"This Department, and the nearly one-quarter million men and women serving in it, give daily expression of a commitment that our nation made generations ago: To serve the needs and the interests of our military veterans -- and to do so in a spirit of compassion, sensitivity, respect, and, above all, gratitude," Cheney told a crowd of veterans and VA workers. "The price of freedom is visible here."
The VA was 48 hospitals and 30,000 employees at the time of Hoover's action. Today, it is the second largest federal agency with 237,000 employees, 157 hospitals, 850 community-based clinics and provides health care to more than 5 million veterans and pensions to more than 3 million.
"No other nation in the world cares for veterans the way we do," said VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. "Over the next 75 years, we will meet the needs of new generations of veterans, while never failing to meet the needs of older veterans."