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VA History Office

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VA History Features
The VA History Features page is the go-to site for content on the individuals, moments and programs of VA's past. Features include an exhibit on Dr. Rosalyn Yalow, VA's only female Nobel Prize awardee. Another exhibit details life for Civil War-era Veterans at the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. That and more!


Veterans Health Administration History
The Veterans Health Administration has its origins in the U.S. Civil War. These were the first federal hospitals and domiciliary sites ever established for the nation's Veterans. 


Veterans Benefits Administration History

The Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) origins date back to the first laws offering relief to soldiers disabled during the American Revolution. Click on the link below to learn more about VBA and the country’s long tradition of providing benefits and service to Veterans.


National Cemetery Administration History
On July 17, 1862, Congress enacted legislation that authorized the President to purchase "cemetery grounds" to be used as national cemeteries "for soldiers who shall have died in the service of the country." This was the start of the National Cemetery Administration. 



President Abraham Lincoln giving his second inaugural address 1865.

President Abraham Lincoln gives his second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.
(Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.)

Department of Veterans Affairs History 


Welcome to the VA History website. The VA History Office (VAHO) is proud to provide material documenting the history of the unique relationship between America and its Veterans. As a new program within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), we intend to share historical information and articles, and also to update visitors on the continued development of VA’s History initiative.

On April 10, 2020, VA established VAHO with the working mission to: Establish an overarching program to collect, preserve, and provide access to our history in order to tell the full story of the Department of Veterans Affairs and its predecessor organizations. Before the establishment of VAHO, VA was one of the only cabinet-level Federal agencies without an organizational history office. The steps to bring this from concept to execution included many incremental actions, the work of VA employees passionate about our history, and the endorsement of VA leadership over many years.

The VA History initiative is the result of a decade-long effort to establish an overarching process to collect and preserve the history of VA. The initiative includes the establishment of a VA History Program and the development of the National VA History Center (NVAHC).

Once fully in place, the VA History Program team will answer historical queries, manage policies for the preservation of historical materials, write and publish historical works about VA, conduct oral histories with key employees, and collect key materials documenting notable VA events.

The NVAHC is intended as a central location to store, preserve, and provide public access to the archives and artifacts of VA and its predecessors. This archive and museum space will be developed in partnership with the VA History Center Foundation using two historic buildings on the Dayton VA Medical Center campus set aside by VA for this purpose. Renovating the buildings and opening the NVAHC will take at least 4-6 years and requires identifying and assembling material from VA locations across the country.

The VA History Office purposefully has an all-VA focus – collecting and documenting the history of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), as well as VA Central Office Staff Offices and the Board of Veterans Appeals.

As part of the building of a new program with an overarching focus, we have been particularly excited to partner with VHA, VBA, and NCA to select talented historians to join each of these organizations, as well as work closely with NCA’s existing experienced historians. They each play an integral part in the advancement of the VA History initiative and their written work represents the vast majority of content on this site. The working vision statement for the NVAHC attempts to capture this perspective: Promote understanding and study of the unique relationship between the United States and its Veterans through the lens of the VA experience – the care of their wounds, the benefits bestowed by a grateful Nation, the contributions of Veterans to society after serving, and the honors provided at their passing.

We look forward to providing fresh and interesting content that helps convey the unique story of VA.

Mike Visconage

VA Chief Historian


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