Earlier this year representatives of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the "Save the [Battle Mountain Sanitarium] VA" group met with The American Legion in Washington, D.C., to share our work on our two VA National Treasures – rehabbing and reusing vacant buildings at the Milwaukee Soldiers Home and preventing the closure of the Battle Mountain Sanitarium in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
Recently, in a resolution regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs' preservation of national historic properties, The American Legion took up the cause to retain medical center services at Battle Mountain Sanitarium, and also requested Section 111 guidance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Section 111 guidance will provide an opportunity to return the Milwaukee Soldiers Home District's vacant buildings to the service of veterans through long-term leases that would enable the VA to leverage private investment, rather than rely on limited federal funding.
Beyond the ask for long-term leasing, The American Legion urged Congress to establish a construction funding account within the VA dedicated to maintenance of the VA's historic medical facilities. The American Legion also asked Congress to enact legislation that would establish an office within the VA to oversee this work and develop an annual reporting process.
This is great news for all of the VA's historic properties, including the Milwaukee Soldiers Home. As the National Trust for Historic Preservation works with the American Legion on legislative actions to support these resolutions, we'll continue to keep you updated on our progress.
To learn more about the Save the Soldiers Home effort, and to download a free downloadable walking tour app, visit http://www.savethesoldiershome.com/.