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VA History Office


National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers - Postcard virtual exhibit

Postcards from the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers

The United States has compensated soldiers who were injured while fighting for their country since the Revolutionary War. It was not until after the Civil War, however, that the government established the first federally funded program, the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (NHDVS), to care for Veterans who served during times of war. VA History Office Intern Kara Wheeler has complied a collection of early 20th century postcards, images, and newspaper clippings to capture the architecture and community during the time when Civil War era Veterans participated in VA's story.

Congress passed the bill creating the NHDVS on March 3, 1865, and President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law on the same day. The act established the first federal program to meet the medical and rehabilitative needs of America’s Veterans. The NHDVS set out to provide a home-like environment while also incorporating military structure. The first national home, called the Eastern Branch, opened in 1866 at Togus, Maine. Ten more branches were added to the NHDVS system over the next 60-plus years. After World War I, the focus of the national homes shifted from residential care to providing short-term medical treatment for returning soldiers and Veterans.

Exhibit by Kara Wheeler, VA History Office intern; Graduate student at George Washington University, Museum Studies Program; and Army Veteran. 


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