As the country sought healing and peace after the Civil War, Wisconsin citizens took up Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s challenge “to care for him who shall have borne the battle.” Their efforts paved the way for the establishment in Milwaukee of one of the original three branches of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. In May 1867, the first 60 veterans, including a musician from the War of 1812, moved to a single building on 400 rolling acres west of Milwaukee. By the end of the 19th century, the bustling campus boasted its own hospital, chapel, library, theater, and recreation hall, in addition to the grand main building. Subsequent wars and military conflicts created a need for additional buildings and services. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011, the campus continues to offer a healing environment for today’s patients and stands as a testimony to advances in veteran health care.
About the Author
Patricia A. Lynch is cofounder of the West Side Soldiers Aid Society, whose mission includes support of the patient libraries and archives of the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The medical center’s archival images form the heart of this tribute to those who “have borne the battle.”