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VA History Office

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VA History Features
Check out the VA History Features page to read stories from the VA History team and other VA team members. Included: story on WWII hero Doris Miller's gallant service; National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers exhibit; 75th anniversary of Veterans Health Administration.


Veterans Health Administration History
Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has its origins in the U.S. Civil War. These were the first federal hospitals and domiciliaries ever established for the nation's Veterans. 


Veterans Benefits Administration History
The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) origins date back to the the American Revolutionary War, and in the early 19th Century, provided the country's first pension support to Veterans. Click below to understand how the VBA transformed and grew from a small three person team to the system it is today. 


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. 



Department of Veterans Affairs History 


Dayton VA Old Headquarters building built 1871 - future home of the National VA History CenterVA has a long history, with various aspects dating back to the first Congress and subsequent benefits to Veterans of the Continental Army. Within VA are multiple administrations that have different lineages and compelling stories that are wrapped into the nation’s history.

VA is determined to pursue the noble purpose to collect, preserve and provide access to its expansive history in order to tell the full story of the Department of Veteran Affairs and its predecessor organizations. As part of that, the VA History Office in conjunction with other partners work to provide a central resource for the collection and study of the Department.

Within VA, historians at the VA History Office, the National VA History Center, the Veterans Health Administeation, the Veterans Benefits Administration, and National Cemetery Administration are working coordinated efforts to catolog and provide public access to the Department's rich history.

The VA History Office website will be the central resource for all people to increase knowledge of the great work accomplished over VA's multi-century existence.

Click on the following links to learn more about the Administrations as well as the work of the National VA History Center at the Dayton VA campus in Dayton, Ohio. 


VA can trace its history to the original Plymouth Colony and benefits offered to those disabled in conflicts with local natives. Later, the Continental Congress of 1776 provided pensions to disabled soldiers and growth of this assistance continued through the 19th Century. After the Civil War, the Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers were established as campuses for war Veterans across the United States. Some of these campuses are still in use as VA facilities to this day. These early examples and efforts were foundational in creating a national-level organization that focused on Veterans.

Eastern Branch

Postcard map of the Eastern Branch, National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Togus, Maine 1891. The campus was one of the original facilities created to serve Veterans following the Civil War.

Eventually the agency developed into three separate administrations – Veterans Benefits Administration, the Veterans Health Administration, and the National Cemetery Administration. Each has a unique road to where they are today - full of stories about valuable programs, ground breaking medical techniques and equipment, and critical legislation that will help promote the understanding and study of the unique relationship between the United States and its Veterans through the lens of the VA experience.

Dayton HQ

Former headquarters building on Dayton's VA campus, built 1871. This building and the Clubhouse building - seen above - will serve as home to the National VA History Center.

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