WASHINGTON — President Reagan today endorsed the idea of creating a Cabinet-level Department of Veterans Affairs, saying, "It's time to give them the recognition they so rightly deserve."
Reagan made his announcement in the Cabinet Room at the start of a meeting with leaders of veterans' groups and members of Congress, triggering a round of cheers and applause.
One participant told Reagan: "This is the first time you've ever tricked me. We came here to have to sell you a bill of goods, and you were already sold. Thank you."
Currently, the Veterans Administration, an independent agency, handles veterans' affairs. A Cabinet-level agency would give veterans more clout.
The announcement came on the eve of Veterans Day.
Reagan noted that there are six times as many veterans alive today as there were in 1930, when the VA was created.