From the beginning, this country showed concern for the housing of its veterans: the first national veterans' home in the United States was the United States Naval Home, approved in 1811, but not opened until 1834 in the Philadelphia Naval Yard. Things picked up after the Civil War, and by 1933, there were 17 federally-managed veterans’ homes. 43 states managed 55 functioning state veterans’ homes before 1933; 14 of those states also had a federal veterans’ home open at the same time.
Established in 1867, the Milwaukee Soldiers Home is one of three original Soldiers Homes in the country, with some of the oldest and most historic buildings in the VA system. It is one of only 43 National Historic Landmarks in Wisconsin and one of Wisconsin’s most historic assets. However, more than 30 years ago, after years of housing veterans, buildings on the campus were vacated and subsequently fell into disrepair.
Now, six buildings are restored and returned to the service of veterans. The monumental milestone marks the completion of a complex, decade-long preservation and rehabilitation project achieved through the collaboration of organizations nationwide.
“This project shows it takes a village to raise a village,” says Tony Perez, secretary-executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee. “The intentionality of the VA, the commitment of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), Mayor Barrett’s support and the involvement of investors, philanthropic-minded corporations and individuals are what made the preservation of Soldiers Home possible.”
Read Forbes' article "A Milwaukee Historic Restoration Makes Homes For Veterans," featuring the Housing Authority City of Milwaukee.