A Heritage of Service. A Future of Promise.
History of the VA
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Throughout the course of American history, courageous men and women have taken up arms to secure and defend the principles upon which our Nation’s freedoms depend. It is through VA’s benefits and programs we, as Americans, honor our citizen-soldiers who have served.
The National VA History Center Project
The National VA History Center, which will be established on the Dayton VA Campus, will serve as a historical and educational institution providing research access to National VA history.
The archives will provide access to important historical records that shaped the development of VA and the benefits and services it provides. The museum will provide a learning environment that integrates all learning styles to provide visitors with an immersive and accessible experience.
Just as President Abraham Lincoln recognized the country’s obligation to honor and care for its Veterans, it is vital we tell the story of VA’s history, preserve its legacy, and honor its dedication to providing and administering critical benefits for current and future veterans. Further, we must foster an understanding of VA’s healthcare and economic advances and innovations benefiting our world.
Establishing a world-class National VA History Center in Dayton, OH, will illuminate VA’s support of our Veterans and celebrate its past, present, and future contributions to our way of life.
The National VA History Center Foundation
The fundraising for this project is helmed by the National VA History Center Foundation. Two historic buildings on the 450-acre Dayton VA Campus are among the oldest dating to 1871 and 1881.
The 1871 Headquarters Building (Bldg 116) will house exhibits and offices, and the 1881 Clubhouse, (Bldg 129), will serve as the primary storage facility for archival and artifact collections, as well as for the care and preservation of records, photographs, audio-visual material, and a wide range of historical objects. These building have been stabilized and are scheduled for renovation.
The project is expected to progress in phases, with the museum’s grand opening set for 2026.
The estimated investment needed to realize the vision is $70 million in private and other non-federal support over a multi-year period, with VA contributing an additional $17 million in public funds for current and planned expenditures.
Once completed, the VA will operate the site while maintaining an ongoing collaboration with the National VA History.
What Can You Do?
After the Civil War, in 1867, the U.S. government purchased land and began construction on the Central Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Dayton.
The Dayton National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, (NHDVS) was opened for reception of members in September 1867. 355 acres of farmland had been purchased 3 miles west of the Montgomery County courthouse on high land with a good well and springs at a cost of $55,700, of which the citizens of Dayton contributed $20,000. Winter was approaching and hundreds of sick and disabled soldiers “homeless, penniless, and almost friendless” were applying for admission. In that first winter, 750 disabled soldiers were admitted. In 1898, there were 7,000 veterans residing at the Home, which was a peak.
Today, we are once again calling on the citizens of Dayton to contribute and support this historical cause. The National VA History Center will house the National History of the U.S. Veterans Affairs, which was established after the Civil War. A significant history!
This project is expected to bring capital investment and new jobs to the area, perhaps making it an anchor for economic development in the Dayton region.
Become a part of this history! Please contribute what you can to the history and the future of the Dayton area and the National VA.