Jack C Montgomery VA Medical Center 100 Years of Service
Nestled atop the highest point in Muskogee sits the original hospital for Oklahoma’s Veterans, Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center, the first VA Medical Center to be named in honor of a Native American. This century old site of care and convalescence has been in continuous operation since 1923.
With the conclusion of WWI in 1918, troops headed home, forever changed. Oklahoma, like many other states at the time, had limited resources to care for the thousands of Veterans in need of assistance. The American Legion in Oklahoma called on the state and the Federal Government to provide health care for those who endured the effects of the world’s first mechanized war. In 1921, Representative Alice Robertson, the first female from Oklahoma elected to the United States Congress, and an avid supporter of Veterans, prioritized an initiative to build a hospital in her home state.
Robertson hailed from Muskogee and knew it would be an ideal location for a Veterans hospital. When a site couldn’t be determined, she even offered up her nearby farm. However, bureaucrats finally agreed the city of Muskogee would provide fifteen acres of Agency Hill (now Honor Heights) as the site of two hospitals: one for Veterans and the other to serve the citizens of the city. The land exchanged hands between the tribal leaders of Creek Nation and the city of Muskogee several times from the Reconstruction era until 1909 when 40 acres were sold back to the city to create a botanical park. The city recognized the hill as a serene location for a hospital despite being located three miles from downtown, a far distance during a time of limited access to motorized transportation. In 1922, construction began.
On June 14, 1923, the Oklahoma Veterans Memorial Hospital opened to receive its first patients. The newly created Veterans Bureau leased the hospital and its equipment from Muskogee for two years until it purchased the building and neighboring municipal hospital in 1926. The two buildings were joined by a corridor of clinical spaces in 1937 and, over the decades, as the Veteran population in Oklahoma grew, so did the hospital. Clinical additions, advancements in technology, and other modernization efforts were ongoing throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The last major expansion occurred in 1998, replacing the original municipal hospital with a bed tower and main entrance. In 2006, the facility’s name changed to commemorate WWII U.S. Army Veteran, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, and Oklahoma Cherokee, 1st Lieutenant Jack C. Montgomery.
Today, Jack C. Montgomery Medical Center is a critical health care facility within the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, serving Veterans in The Sooner State.