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Milwaukee VA Medical Center


150th Anniversary of Outstanding Veteran Care

Event Schedule and map, download or print this!

Visitor Shuttle

Shuttle will stop at the Spinal Cord Building upper lot, Pavilion area, Ward Theater, Building 6 parking lot and Wadsworth Library.

Food Vendors (location announcment to follow)
Silver Spur BBQ
Kokopelli's -- sandwiches
Cowboy Kettle Korn
Forest Brew -- homemade root beer
Old Country Style Almonds

June 3 Schedule of Events (subject to change)
Opening Ceremony -- 9:30 a.m. at Lake Wheeler Pavillion

Veterans Information Tent
Veteran Service Organization representitives and other Veteran specific information

 All day

Guided tours 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Wadsworth Libary
Guided tour of historic library and military memorabilia flag displays

Ward Theater
Porch Talk: History and architecture of the theater

Living history encampments and displays
Civil War | Grand Army of the Republic | Spanish American War WWII | Vietnam Iraq & Afghanistan

Military Medical Displays
Civil War | 409th ASMC-Area Support Medical Company

Wood National Cemetery Office -- 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

10:30  John Afton -- Civil War, first burial Wood National Cemetery
11:30  Jason Smith -- Civil War
12:30  James Duncan -- Civil War, Medal of Honor recipient
1:30    Eleanor Maher -- WWI Nurse
2:30  Royal Klein -- WWII and Korea
3:30 Duncan Krueger -- first killed-in-action during Vietnam and interred at Wood National Cemetery


Historic District bus tours (free tickets available at Volunteer Check-In Tent)
Tour 1: 10:45 a.m. to 11:15 | Tour 2: 11:20 to 11:50 | Tour 3: 11:55 to 12:25 p.m. | Tour 4: 12:30 to 1 | Tour 5: 1:05 to 1:35 | Tour 6: 1:40 to 2:10
10:45a.m.- 2p.m. 
27th Annual Bike Blessing: south of hospital, parking lot 10
Parade of Bikes: along S. Washington Drive between 12:30-12:45
12:45 p.m.
Fisher House Tours 10 a.m. -
4 p.m.

Lake Wheeler Pavillion Stage

  • 9:30 a.m.: Opening Ceremony
  • 10:15-11: West Side Victorian Dancers
  • 11:30-12:30: Close Enuf – Vietnam Era    
  • 1-2: Wilson Knights – Big Band     
  • 2:30-3:30: Command Performance – WWII  
  • 4-5:1st Brigade Band – Civil War   

Milwaukee Preservation Alliance and Alexander Company Display
Explore the renovation efforts for a handful of historic VA buildings

 All day

Veterans Showcase Tent

10 Gregory Lott, poet
Jeff, Maurice and Algie, musicians
2 Jeff, Steve and Gary
10:30 Josh, musician 2:30 Patrick, Eric and Michael
11 Jesse Fewerd, musician 3 Drum Circle**
11:30 Andy Neary & Dave Thornton
Civil War Music
3:30 Scott, Dan and Gary
Noon East to West & Tom Weber
4 Drum Circle
12:30 Vets on Frets, musicians 4:30 JAM!

Tom, Emily, Gary and Randy,

Feast of Crispian*



*Feast of Crispian -- a non-profit that uses acting techniques to broaden emotional
resources Veterans use to overcome traumatic and reintegration. Cast: Ronnie Graham (Hamlet,) Mike Pikuleff (Falstaff, Henry IV,) Carissa Dipeitro (LadyPercy, Henry VI,) Tim Schleis (King Richard II,) Bill Martin (Edmund,King Lear,) Bob Balderson (Chorus, Henry V,) Mike Keppert (Henry V.)

**Drum Circle objectives are sharing rhythm and tune in with others.


Spinal Cord Injury Center, Building 144
Building tours (final tour at 4 p.m.) and wheelchair obstacle course and putting green
Veteran Art display
Children's craft area

9a.m -
4:15 p.m.

All-Veteran Welcome Home
Coffee and bakery provided by Donut Dollies
Lunch for Veterans – provided by VA Transition Care Management Team (while supplies last)

9 a.m. -
5 p.m.


Our hallowed grounds of the Milwaukee VA Medical Center can trace its roots back to one of the original birthplaces of the modern-day Department of Veterans Affairs.

It was May 3, 1867, when 60 Civil War Veterans first moved into farmhouses on the grounds, as work continued on the iconic Old Main. Since then we are proud of our noble heritage and history of care over 150 years. We hope you will join us throughout 2017 for our anniversary celebration!

Our biggest event will be a day-long event on our campus June 3, featuring re-enactors, musical entertainment, tours of the grounds and select buildings, adaptive sports demonstrations and a look at our history of care over 15 decades!

While that may be the biggest event, this is a year-long celebration for us. You will see our special “150th” logo throughout the medical center as we highlight our history and accomplishments.

Our 18th Annual Salute to African-American Veterans kicks off our year of celebrating. This wonderful event focuses on the historical magnitude of our African-American Veterans, going all the way back to the Revolutionary War.

We’ll end the month of February with a special, indoor encampment by the men and women of Wisconsin’s own Company F, Colored Troops re-enactors, as they tell the pivotal tale of their contributions to the Civil War effort. In turn, that helps us tell our story.

Check on the right side of the page for printable and electronic flyers for you to display!

Our history

As your Milwaukee VA traces its roots back to the days following the Civil War, we know none of it may have been possible without the vision and determination of the West Side Soldiers Aid Society.

This group of concerned women first opened a storefront in downtown Milwaukee to take care of Civil War Veterans, and they raised more than $100,000 to build a permanent place of respite.

On March 3, 1865, a month before the Civil War ended, President Abraham Lincoln signed the act that created the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The West Side Soldiers Aid Society provided their funding that allowed one of the first three national homes to be built in Milwaukee. In May 1867, 60 Veterans moved into existing farm buildings on land that covered 425 acres.

The original domiciliary, affectionately known as Old Main, was completed in 1869. Using one building to serve all the veterans’ needs was in keeping with the notion of living in a “home.” Old Main originally had a 500-bed capacity and we provided continuous care to our Veterans there through 1989.

"I like to tell people … if the walls of our many buildings on these grounds could talk, the magnificent stories they would tell, but walking among the historical buildings of our campus – whether it is Old Main, the Ward Theater, our main hospital that opened in 1966 — that history, those stories whisper in the wind." — Dean Schwaller, Historical District Liaison

The grounds saw a construction boom of new buildings in the late 1800s, which included a hospital, library, chapel, theater, firehouse and more. Construction continued in 1923 with building 70, originally for tuberculosis patients; and building 43 in 1932 as a hospital annex. Many of these original buildings were designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011.

The current 10-story hospital building opened in 1966. At the time, with 1,000 beds, it was one of the largest VA hospitals, with numerous modern features such as built-in oxygen, air conditioning and paging systems. It was named after Milwaukee Congressman Clement J. Zablocki in 1984.  

Almost the entire hospital has been modernized on every floor over the last few years. Most recent changes include a revamped and spacious East and South Entrance, Emergency Department and Urgent Care.

Since our humble beginnings taking care of 60, we now serve 64,000 Veterans annually. Our care continues on these grounds and in the community today with:

  • Four additional clinics throughout the state that offers care closer to where are veterans live
  • Our Community Resource and Referral Center in downtown Milwaukee, which provides assistance to homeless Veterans
  • Greenhouse Community Living Center which delivers nursing home-level care in a tranquil, home-like setting
  • Spinal Cord Injury Center which provides care to our spinal-cord injured Veterans and gives them a new lease on life with adaptive sports
  • Domiciliary care which provides much-needed help for those with post-traumatic stress, substance abuse treatment and other mental health issues

As we embrace our history and look to the future, this year we announced an Enhanced Use Lease partnership that will soon see Old Main called back to duty, and used to provide more housing for homeless Veterans.

Yesterday, today and always, we celebrate the Veteran at your Milwaukee VA and look forward to another 150 years of world-class care and treatment.



Dean Schwaller
Chairperson, 150th Anniversary Committee
414-384-2000 Ext. 43994

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