The vast accomplishments of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) during the past century have contributed to the advancement of medicine and benefited patients worldwide. This article highlights some of those accomplishments and the advantages in the VA system that promulgated those successes. Through its affiliation with medical schools, its formation of a structured research and development program, its Cooperative Studies Program, and its National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, the VA has led the world in the progress of health care. The exigencies of war led not only to the organization of VA health care but also to groundbreaking, landmark developments in colon surgery; surgical treatments for vascular disease, including vascular grafts, carotid surgery, and arteriovenous dialysis fistulas; cardiac surgery, including implantable cardiac pacemaker and coronary artery bypass surgery; and the surgical management of many conditions, such as hernias. The birth of successful liver transplantation was also seen within the VA, and countless other achievements have benefited patients around the globe. These successes have created an environment where residents and medical students are able to obtain superb education and postgraduate training and where faculty are able to develop their clinical and academic careers.
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