Whether they volunteered or were drafted, U.S. veterans have fought for the freedoms Americans enjoy - many paid the ultimate price.
Still others have returned home with serious medical needs.
So what better way to repay them for their service than to provide them with sufficient healthcare.
That is the mission of Veterans Affairs at its over 100 facilities nationwide.
Not just a hospital
Job training, driver training, educational assistance, disability compensation, home loan help and resources for homeless veterans are just a few of the services provided by the VA. The services available vary among locations.
"Here we treat the whole person. This is not just about healthcare and it's not just a hospital," said Richard Beam, the director of public and community affairs at Long Beach Veterans Healthcare System.
"Veterans come here thinking or feeling life is over, but we have the potential here everyday to change a life forever."
What makes the services of the VA successful is looking at every aspect of a veteran's life, Beam said.
"You never know who walks in that door. But when people come here thinking life is over, we want to make sure that what we are doing is adding value to them. If not, then why are we doing it?" he said.
At the VA, veterans will find comfort in a community of their peers, Beam said.
"You can walk in here and no one knows what you're coming here
While individual cases vary, some type of benefit is often owed a veteran, Beam said.
"The most important thing I can say to a veteran is to come in, sit down with somebody in eligibility enrollment and find out what you're eligible for," he said. "We're looking for every reason to tell you, `We have something for you' and that you are eligible as opposed to trying to keep you out," he said.
The VA is also committed to providing veterans with the most effective mental health care services available, Beam said.
"Here at the VA, we work to improve the quality of life for the veteran," he said. "It's not just about broken bones. These are, many times, broken people, and we try to cover everything to make the person whole, making them feel better today than they were yesterday."
The VA even helps veterans make end-of-life plans.
"If you are a veteran and you've honorably served, you have certain rights to possibly be buried at one of the national cemeteries," Beam said.
Unfortunately, the biggest misconception about the VA is that it is old, gray and uncaring, Beam said.
"The government is the last place in the world that you would think we care about what you want, but the truth is, we've found that it's really cost effective to look at these things because, happier employees (means) better patients and better outcomes," he said. "They will have better outcomes because if they feel significantly better about their care and no one is talking down to them."
In order to benefit from the possible benefits, veterans must, "come in and find out what we owe you as a nation," Beam said.
"We may have something that may change your life in such a significant way that you never knew you had coming or thought was a possibility," he said. "Anything we can do to get veterans well, we will do it."
For more information on VA services, go to www.va.gov.