I have worked in the system. Good job security. When you travel you can use your hospital ID and get government rates on everything (hotel, car, etc). Great credit union, tax-free shopping (similar to the military).
Nice benefits, but you have to remember you are working for the government. In other words, changes are difficult to implement and everything moves at a snails' pace. You are working for a national system and although it may not apply really well to your particular area, because it is national, you still need to follow it. And don't park illegally-the cops that are on the VA campus' are federal police! One of my co-workers had to go before a federal judge because he'd gotten a few parking tickets!
The other thing to remember that I found and never thought of before I started, is that because it is unionized and there are those protections in place, there were more than a few people working there who, if it was a private system, would have been fired for their laziness, lack of skills, unprofessionalism, etc. There were also some who would have quit because they didn't like what they were doing (which IMHO, if you are coming to work miserable and making everyone miserable, its time to find a new thing to do!), but because of the benefits, retirement, tenure, etc, they didn't quit and just came to work miserable! So that is the downside.
I LOVED the patients! I am not military, nor is anyone in my family, so I felt like that was my way of serving the nation, by caring for the vets. I felt a lot of value in my job because of what i did for them. I loved stopping to give them directions, listening to their stories about being fighter wing pilots in WWII and comforting them when they had anxiety from what they had been through. I also thought it was REALLY cool that the first day of orientation was all history about the VA, taking the constitutional oath and learning about how the system works.
So it isn't a great place for creative working freedom, or if you like to be in a place where you can be a mover and a shaker, and you may find yourself surrounded by miserable people (this depends on your particular area-and that could be said for anywhere you go!), but the security is nice (you can also transfer easily to other VA facilities if you move and keep your benefits) and the patients are wonderful…..hope that helps?