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VA: The Human Cost of War

Explore the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs, from the troubled beginnings of the Veterans Bureau of 1920s to the modern VA system.


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The VA and the Human Cost of War

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Produced by LP Life Productions and Steeplechase Films, directed by six-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns and executive produced by Lois Pope, VA: THE HUMAN COST OF WAR takes a macroscopic look at the Veterans Administration (as the Department of Veterans Affairs is commonly known), examining the department’s history from the troubled beginnings as the Veterans Bureau of the 1920s to the modern VA system. The one-hour film chronicles, in depth and often wrenching detail, the workings of this crucial but at times beleaguered American institution: exploring what it does and how it functions, its vast size and critical importance, its history and provenance — how and why it came into existence, how and why it has changed over time, how it has come to be broken in critical ways in recent generations and how it may be reformed going forward.

Through personal stories from veterans, intertwined with deep historical and political analysis from leading scholars and policy-makers, the documentary explores the social contract between veterans and society, exposing the endless cycle of bureaucracy, apathy and underfunding that has directly contributed to the harrowing rate at which veterans commit suicide in the US: 20 per day, or about one per hour.