A Short History of the
West Los Angeles Veterans Administration
This project includes histories gathered from newspapers, published sources, and interviews. In addition to this timeline and essay there are other projects affiliated with this project.
CSULA students Michael Mattice and Nicole Miller collaborated with veterans Paul Crowley and Michael Valenzuela at the California Veteran Home at the VA over the Summer of 2011 to write "Proof of 88" as part of their internship as "Hill Street Historians" at the Studio for Southern California History.
1865: The American Civil War ends and the mainly volunteer forces start returning home. Volunteers are not eligible for care in existing military facilities, however, so the United States Congress incorporates the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and Sailors of the Civil War. The legislation is one of the last acts signed by President Abraham Lincoln. It initiates a network of federal institutions, known colloquially as "old soldiers' homes," to care for Union veterans.
1867–1929: Ten federal soldiers homes and one sanitarium are built nationwide. The veteran-related history of the site that is now the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration (WLA-VA) campus dates to 1887, when the government decides to build its first West Coast soldiers home. On March 2 that year Congress approves "An act to provide for the location and erection of a Branch Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers west of the Rocky Mountains." Los Angeles' civic and business leaders immediately lobby to host the "Pacific Branch of the National Home for the Disabled Volunteer Soldiers," and Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker and Senator John P. Jones donate 300 acres east of Santa Monica for its site.
Resources for this timeline include newspapers such as the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Tribune, and the New York Times. Other references include memoirs of nineteenth century city builders, annual reports of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, the Japanese American National Museum, the Library of Congress and the Los Angeles Conservancy.