As you may know, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is the custodian for many historic resources across the nation, including those at the Milwaukee Soldiers Home. This week, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released a report, Honoring Our Veterans: Saving Their Places of Health Care and Healing, that explores the Department of Veterans Affairs’ cultural resource stewardship, identifies deficiencies and best practices, and highlights the work the National Trust and others have been doing at Milwaukee Soldiers Home to save this National Treasure. We hope this report will help to change policies at the VA that are preventing historic VA properties from being saved or reused.
While the report recommended a number of areas of improvement, one thing was abundantly clear: the Milwaukee VA Medical Center stands apart from its peers. Today, the Milwaukee VA serves as an excellent example of how open dialogue between key stakeholders can create mutually beneficial solutions.
Though we are not yet at the finish line for the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, we have come a long way and made significant progress. We are fortunate to have a positive working relationship with the Milwaukee VA Medical Center and appreciate the VA’s willingness to engage with us on finding the best solutions for its vacant buildings. It is our hope that other VAs around the nation can look to Milwaukee as an example of how the VA can work with preservationists to advance solutions for veterans and preserve some of the most important buildings in our history.