Objective With cardiothoracic education going through a critical phase of reevaluation and adaptation, we investigated perceptions of Veterans Affairs hospitals in cardiothoracic training. Methods A content-validated survey was distributed electronically to 676 cardiothoracic surgery residents, recent cardiothoracic graduates (on or after June 2006), cardiothoracic surgery chairpersons, program directors, associate program directors, and section heads. The Cardiothoracic Surgery Network was used to identify target recipients and their e-mail addresses. Results Forty-three percent of the target recipients (292/676) completed the survey. Of those who were residents, 59% (65/111) rotated at a Veterans Affairs hospital during their cardiothoracic training; this rotation accounted for 25% or more of the total training period for 19% of them (21/111). A Veterans Affairs appointment was held by 42% of program directors/chairpersons (20/48) and 24% of graduates, associate program directors, and section heads (31/129). An affiliation with a Veterans Affairs hospital was rated as somewhat to very beneficial by 93% of the responders (273/292), and the cardiothoracic training received at Veterans Affairs facilities was rated as good to excellent by 73% of the responders (213/292). Sixty-nine percent of respondents (201/292) reported the operating room environment at Veterans Affairs hospitals to be at least as conducive to learning as that at the affiliate teaching hospital, and 76% (223/292) indicated that residents get more autonomy and hands-on experience at Veterans Affairs institutions. In addition, 64% of responders (188/292) reported that they would seek or recommend a Veterans Affairs job. Responses were positive toward the Veterans Affairs system regardless of whether the responder had any Veterans Affairs affiliation (ie, appointment as staff or rotation as resident); however, a Veterans Affairs affiliation was associated with a higher rate of positive responses regarding Veterans Affairs hospitals. Conclusions These findings suggest that Veterans Affairs hospitals are perceived as providing valuable experience in cardiothoracic training. The results warrant additional studies to further define the educational role of Veterans Affairs hospitals and help shape existing and future collaboration between cardiothoracic residency programs and the Veterans Affairs.