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#VACO100 A century at VA's Central Office Building

In 1918, Treasury Secretary William G. McAdoo requested $4,200,000 to purchase the old Arlington Hotel Site to house the Bureau of War Risk Insurance. Construction of a 11-story stone-faced modern office building with 3 stories underground and an attic would house the entire War Risk Insurance Bureau.

Construction of the War Risk Building , 1918
In 1919 the War Risk Building first opened its doors. Located at 810 Vermont Avenue, it would become home to the Bureau of War Risk Insurance.
Vermont Ave. at H St., NW, 1919

On January 25, 1920, all available space was utilized, but still it was not large enough for the approximately 14,000 employees. Certain units had to remain in outlying buildings.

In 1921 the War Risk Building was renamed the Veterans Bureau building when the Bureau of War Risk Insurance, Public Health Service, and Rehabilitation Division of the Federal Board for Vocational Education merged as the Veterans Bureau.

In 1924, the World War Adjusted Compensation Act promised to pay World War I Veterans $1.25 per day for their overseas service and $1 per day for domestic service during the war—with payment deferred until 1945.

Doughboys return home, 1918

By 1929, the federal system of national homes had grown to 11 institutions that spanned the country and accepted Veterans of all American wars.

In 1930, the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and Bureau of Pensions merged with the Veterans Bureau. The new organization was named the Veterans Administration.

That same year, Executive Order 5476 transferred artificial limbs and trusses responsibilities from the War Department to the Veterans Administration.

Veterans Administration Prosthetics circa 1977

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the “G.I. Bill” became law on June 22nd, 1944, providing new education, training, housing and rehabilitation benefits.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill in the Oval Office; June 22, 1944
In 1945, General Omar Bradley took the reins at VA and steered its transformation into a modern organization.

In 1947, the first VA hospital for World War II soldiers opened in Tomah, Wisconsin.

Tomah VAMC
The Ex-Servicemen’s Unemployment Compensation Act of 1958 established a permanent system of unemployment insurance, which included peacetime Veterans, for the first time.

In 1958, VA Administrator Sumner Whittier had two plaques, inscribed with an excerpt from Lincoln’s second inaugural address, mounted at the front entrance of the VA Central Office Building.

810 Vermont Avenue, N.W.

That same year, installation of air conditioning at VA Central Office began.

The first successful U.S. transplant of a human liver took place on Sunday, May 5, 1963 in a six-hour operation at the VA hospital in Denver, Colorado.

In 1966, the Cold War G.I. Bill extended benefits to Vietnam Veterans, discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.

Share your G.I. Bill story - #mygibillstory

Between the end of World War II and 1966, one-fifth of all single-family residences built were financed by the G.I. Bill for either World War II or Korean War Veterans.

The first heart transplant performed at a VA hospital took place at Palo Alto, California, on June 2, 1969.

In 1972, work on a Metrorail subway began in the Northeast corner of the VA Central Office Building..

DC Metro under construction, 1972
The third consolidation of federal veterans’ programs took place in 1973 when Army’s National Cemetery System transferred to the Veterans Administration through Public Law 93-43 (Army retained ownership of Arlington and Soldiers Home national cemeteries).

On June 13, 1979, congress authorized through Public Law 96-22, Veterans Readjustment Counseling centers for Vietnam Veterans.

Operations began in 1980 and by 1981, 133 “storefront” counseling centers had opened.

The Veterans Administration elevated to a Cabinet-level federal department when President Regan signed Public Law 100-527 on October 25, 1988.

In 1991, the Veterans Health Services and Research Administration (VHS&RA) was redesignated as the Veterans Health Administration.

Michael E. DeBakey, MD

IN 2007, VA’s new nationwide toll-free suicide-crisis prevention hotline went live. The hotline was staffed by mental health professionals at the Canandaigua VAMC.

Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 provided education and training to Veterans who served in the U.S. military after September 11, 2001.

In 2010, VA began executing a strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness among Veterans.

As a result of VA’s collaboration with federal, state, local and non-profit organizations, Veteran homelessness has been reduced by nearly half between 2010 and 2018. Also, more than 65 communities and three states – Connecticut, Delaware and Virginia – have effectively ended Veteran homelessness.

VA Central Office 2019

This year, VA Central Office celebrates it's 100th year. Though known by many names, within these walls, President Lincoln's words remain steadfast: "to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan."

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