Soldiers Home

Painting by Shelby Keefe

New Post on Soldiers Home


Photos from 2005 Ceremony

Pearl Harbor Day Gathering

Homeless Veterans, War on Terror, Soldiers Home Demands by Local Vets

Subject: AP article about America’s Homeless Veteran Population, CFVR’s purpose
CFVR Members and Friends:

The following AP article about the Veteran Homeless population ran in today’s LAT. The article quotes our guest speaker at this evening’s meeting and original member of CFVR, John Keaveney, founder of New Directions, Inc.,0,3511737.story?coll=la-home-center

This article should serve as a reminder that as we approach Veterans Day for many veterans, including most of us with CFVR, every day is Veterans’ Day. It should also remind everyone about why we work diligently to ensure that the entire property at the WLA VA Medical Facility, and other VA properties around the nation, are to be used for direct services to veterans only, not for entertaining the public, not for filming this or that film project or staging film screenings that exclude veterans and have no relationship to the veteran community, not for rental car storage, and any other bs purpose including one of the most ridiculous proposals ever at the WLA VA, a National Park open to the public.

We are in the midst of a Global War on Terror with hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Either the war is real or not and Los Angeles and the country must understand, if it really is a war we must remain committed to as a nation: Direct services to Veterans Only. And when it comes right down to it, war or not: Direct services to Veterans Only.

We look forward to seeing you here at 6:30. Thanks,

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A vision to preserve VA grounds for our vets

Posted: March 9, 2007

By Milwaukee County Veterans Service Officer and Assistant CVSO that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ( on Saturday,10 MAR 2007.

Contrary to the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board’s opinion, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s decision to withdraw the city’s Veterans Affairs redevelopment plan is a victory - for veterans, this community and the nation.

Beyond spin and misrepresentations, the hard fact is: The city’s plan would have brought massive commercial development and public housing to the grounds, destroying a national treasure that was created by American citizens for the purposes of providing for the care of veterans.

The danger or threat still exists. The VA response, within 48 hours of the city’s withdrawal, was to announce that, “after the dust settles,” the property would go out for request for proposals.

To paraphrase Edmund Burke, the only thing necessary for the triumph of commercial developers is that our congressional delegation does nothing.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), faced with the same threat on the West Los Angeles VA grounds, stated, “As a nation, I believe we should also resist attempts to sell out land and facilities earmarked for veterans. . . . Land donated to honor the service of veterans should be kept in the hands of veterans. We cannot allow our responsibility to former service members to be subordinated to economic interests.”

Milwaukee veterans think that says it all.

Feinstein inserted language in the 2007 Appropriations Bill to prevent the VA from moving forward on any enhanced use lease on the West Los Angeles VA grounds without approval of the Committees on Appropriations. This amounts to a veto - in California.

Locally, veterans and preservationists are finalizing a plan for our VA grounds. At the same time, we are asking Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold and Rep. Gwen Moore to call upon colleagues in Congress to take commercial EUL, or Enhanced Use Leasing, authority away from the VA nationwide.

VA leadership that cannot or will not own up to the full extent of the demand on its health care system simply cannot be entrusted with the concurrent authority to sell off its infrastructure and land. This is property almost certainly needed to serve veterans, if real budgetary requirements and numbers in need are acknowledged.

What is the veterans’ plan? Expansion of veterans’ health care services, preservation of the district and public education - establishment of the National Veterans Outdoor Museum and increased visibility and expansion of the Reclaiming Our Heritage event.

Preservation must come first. As a sign of solidarity and commitment, our legislators should encourage the VA to immediately transfer “ownership” of the chapel to Soldiers Home Foundation Inc. so full restoration can begin immediately, setting a high standard districtwide.

Along with seeking congressional support for federal funding, local veterans will begin a nationwide fund-raising campaign, initially targeting veteran organizations to establish the National Veterans Outdoor Museum, which will involve full restoration of the historic district.

Imagine schoolchildren on a walking tour, surrounded by the buildings that represent this nation’s original commitment to veteran health care, while inside veterans are being treated for service-connected ailments, finding shelter and living out their golden years.

In a restored Ward Theater, audiences observe re-enactors debating a draft of the Declaration of Independence or the creation of the Soldiers Home. Walking along the tombstones of an expanded Wood National Cemetery, a crowd listens to “Abraham Lincoln” delivering the Gettysburg Address.

This is our vision: Veterans and their families being served and citizens being exposed to the sacrifices that preserving freedom requires.

We encourage citizens to join veterans, their families, supporters and preservationists as we restore the luster to this jewel in our midst, preserve the green space on the entire grounds and expand services to those who have made such great sacrifices for this nation and our freedom.

Domingo Leguizamon of Milwaukee is director of Milwaukee County Veterans Services, currently on military leave while on active duty. In his absence, Jim Duff of Wauwatosa is acting director.

An Open Letter to Senators Kohl and Feingold, and Representative

Following are recent news items of which Im certain you are aware:

A news report records the atrocious conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital. In the aftermath, the responsible general is fired and the Secretary of the Army is forced to resign, for failing to take full responsibility for the failure to provide acceptable levels of health care to this nations soldiers and veterans.

In the wake of the scandal, President Bush appoints a commission to conduct a comprehensive review of conditions at military and VA hospitals.

Last fall the GAO reported that the VA is under-funding their current budget by basing it on unrealistic assumptions, errors in estimation and insufficient data. In addition to failing to take into account estimations of the needs of Iraq/Afghanistan War veterans, the VA is also disregarding the massive influx of Vietnam War veterans who are now entering the VA health care system for the first time, many of them manifesting the service-connected effects of exposure to Agent Orange.
Senator Patty Murray of Washington asserted recently that Secretary James Nicholson is trying to discourage men and women going into the VA in order to keep numbers down and say to this country: this doesnt cost that much. Senator Murray further stated that Nicholson intends to do this by establishing annual VA enrollment fees and increasing co-pays for prescription drugs.

Various Senators and Representatives have called for the resignation of VA Secretary Nicholson.

In this atmosphere of gross incompetence, or worse, intentional negligence, by the leadership of the Veterans Administration, that same VA, underestimating the health care needs of this nations veterans and now discouraging veterans from even attempting to use the VA, is also engaged in a massive, nation-wide sell-off of its land and buildings through a congressionally authorized program called Enhanced Use Leasing (EUL).

As you know, veterans in southeastern Wisconsin have just recently fought off an attempt by the City of Milwaukee to gain control of major part of Milwaukee VA grounds for commercial and public housing development. The VA response was to announce that the land would go back out for Requests for Proposal.

(The veterans and preservationists do have a plan for the VA grounds, a plan that involves historic preservation, expansion of veterans services and grave space, and public education (through establishment of the National Veterans Museum and the expansion of Reclaiming Our Heritage). The Voice of the Veterans Community looks forward in the near future to present this plan to you and obtain your support and sponsorship.)

The VA, refusing to acknowledge the full extent of veterans in need of its resources, and further refusing to request the full funding necessary to serve these veterans, is engaged in selling off property and land that almost certainly are needed to serve these veterans. I am requesting that you call upon your colleagues in the Congress to take EUL authority away from the Veterans Administration. The first step is to place an immediate nation-wide moratorium on EUL. If the VA cannot or will not own up to the full extent of the veterans health care crisis, they cannot have concurrent authority to sell off their infrastructure and land.

For our veterans, for their families, for posterity, please act now.

Contact Information for Wisconsin Delegation

Residents of Wisconsin are represented in Congress by 2 Senators and 8 Representatives.

Member Name DC Phone DC FAX Email

Senator Herb Kohl (D- WI) 202–224–5653 202–224–9787 Local Mailing Address: 310 W. Wisconsin Ave Suite 950 Milwaukee, WI 53203

Senator Russell D. Feingold (D- WI) 202–224–5323 202–224–2725 Local Mailing Address: 517 E. Wisconsin Ave Room 408 Milwaukee, WI 53202

Representative Paul Ryan (R - 01) 202–225–3031 202–225–3393 Local Mailing Address: 216 6th St, Racine, WI 53403

Representative Tammy Baldwin (D - 02) 202–225–2906 202–225–6942 Local Mailing Address: 10 E Doty, Suite 405, Madison WI 53703

Representative Ron Kind (D - 03) 202–225–5506 202–225–5739 Local Mailing Address: 205 5th Ave South, Suite 226 LaCrosse, WI 54601

Representative Gwen Moore (D - 04) 202–225–4572 202–225–8135 Local Mailing Address: 219 N. Milwaukee St Suite 3A Milwaukee, WI 53202

Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R - 05) 202–225–5101 202–225–3190 Local Mailing Address: 120 Bishops Way, Room 154, Brookfield, WI 53005

Representative Thomas E. Petri (R - 06) 202–225–2476 202–225–2356 Local Mailing Address: 2390 STH 44, Suite B Oshkosh, WI 54904

Representative David R. Obey (D - 07) 202–225–3365 202–225–3190 email+sign+up+form.htm Local Mailing Address: First Star Plaza, Suite 406A, 401 5th Street, Wausau, WI 54403
Representative Steve Kagen (D - 08) 202–225–5665 202–225–5729 Local Mailing Address: 700 E. Walnut St, Green Bay, WI 54301

Responses to Defeat of Mayor’s Plan

The vet’s had a good option with letting the city develop the property, but they blew it. Using the vacant land to create revenues for preservation of the existing site made a lot of sense, especially given the fact that the vet groups have not brought anything to the table that would help help them take care of what they have. With the press of late talking about conditions at our vet treatment facilities, no money will be spared for additional grass cutting and preservation of historical buildings that have been mothballed for many years. The money will ALL be spent in the medical facilities because that is the most important and pressing issue…………..and the rest will continue to decline. Too bad. It was a beautiful place.

I will send a letter but I have a question. Where is Senator Feingold on this issue and why aren’t you asking that we write to him?

I think most of us are not in favor of reopening Wood National Cemetery. I think we are rally in favor of preserving the Old Soldier’s Home for NA and AA vets, to honor them and in favor of using the other buildings for housing the homeless. I think the vet group that opposes this wants to get rid of the buildings to add to the cemetery space.

Please add our names to the list to support the re-opening of Woods Cem.

Janet & Lare Schlee
1016 North 29th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53208

While I may not agree with the politics of it all…Soldier’s Home is such an important part of our history. I am currently part of a group effort writting a book that Soldier’s Home is going to be a part of. I have beenn facinated with the grounds since working there for a short time. You will find no other place in Milwaukee as rich in history. This is one of many sites in Milwaukee (kinda since it really is its own city) that shows what a place Milwaukee used to be.

Government Mismanagement at Walter Reed, the Tip of the Iceberg thats Sinking Veterans Care Across the Country. Example in point, the sell-off at Milwaukees VA, by John Lewandowski, Voice of the Veterans Community

In the past weeks we have read of the decrepit and squalid conditions that our soldiers and veterans returning from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were forced to live in at Walter Reed Hospital in our nations capital. We also watched Bob Woodruffs return to ABC News after barely surviving a bombing in Iraq, report on the inadequate medical facilities for our returning veterans.

These stories are embryonic of problems in the care of those who we ask to go in harms way across the VA system. And while proper funding of the VA is a battle far away from most veterans in our capital, we have recently seen this fight occur in our own community of Milwaukee. Here we watched the Zablocki VA trying for years to sell off its legacy of lands and buildings placed in its trust for veterans. Across the country the VAs EUL Program is leasing or selling off valuable land and buildings in an effort to plug the holes in a system that cant properly treat the veterans entrusted to its care.

In Milwaukee, over thirty Veteran groups battled the City of Milwaukee and a bevy of private developers who saw a fire sale in the sweeping pastoral grounds of the Zablocki VA Medical Center. The City armed with Powerpoint Presentations and Proposal Kits hit the road for over a year across the state and to the VA in Washington D.C. to pitch its plan of developing over a million square feet of office buildings in an underutilized 30-acre area of the grounds. Unfortunately, this underutilized land was never considered as an option by the VA to keep the adjacent Wood National Cemetery which was dedicated in 1871 and presently has over 31,000 veterans buried there open, now forcing families of our returning fallen soldiers to fend for burial space on their own. Instead the VA saw it as thirty acres it could quickly sell off to find some quick cash. And in typical government style, it was not asking fair market value, only a steam pipe fix and pharmacy upgrades? Apparently heating the hospital and providing prescriptions to its veterans is not in the national budget?

The disrepair and neglect seen at Walter Reed has occurred for decades in Milwaukees historic Soldiers Home and adjacent buildings on these beautiful hallowed grounds. Buildings that could provide veteran housing, PTSD treatment, a Fischer House for our veteran families, treatment facilitys for female veterans etc., have been left to fall apart, soon to be victims of the bulldozers.

Recently The City of Milwaukee withdrew their proposal under fierce opposition from the Voice of the Veterans Community. But the VA is planning to quickly find another developer, a private one without the political moral compass of a public agency who at some point needs to be re-elected. So soon the funeral processions of our fallen Iraqi and Afghan soldiers and of any past and future conflicts will drive past the big box stores or strip malls sitting on land President Lincoln established as cemetery and medical facilities for our nations heroes.

And families supporting their wounded soldiers receiving treatment at Zablocki will continue to struggle financially with travel and hotel costs to stay close to their loved ones.

And veterans struggling with PTSD and the addiction problems that go hand in hand will remain homeless, as the buildings that could house them silently crumble into dust.

We watch daycare facilities for the caregivers of our wounded that were taken away years ago from lack of facilities go unanswered. Senior Veterans in need of similar daycare are now the worry only of their families who struggle financially and emotionally.

Women veterans, now the fastest growing segment of our forces find no treatment facilities that can address their needs.

As the list goes on, this VA facility like others are hitting a stonewall of politicians in Washington who refuse to care for our nations veterans they sent in harms way. These VAs sees their only option off these national treasurers and resources at the Pawn Shops of developers who see a quick buck on the back of others despair.

While the nations soldiers and families suffer from the costs of war, now they face another battle of a government and its politicians who are never ready to pay the full costs of their actions. As quickly as their chest pounding war speeches wane, they are ready to move on to the next sound bite. They only wish these wounded veterans and their families and the dead veterans families would move on, and get over it.

Its time we held these politicians of both parties accountable. Will they finally take care of the soldiers and their families they readily sent off to war? We hope the you can help us fight this battle in some way so our Veterans and their families can get on with the healing of their minds and bodies. Thank You for your time.

Yours Truly,

John Lewandowski
5262 S. 9th Street

I am a member of the VOICE of the VETERANS COMMUNITY and was with the negotiations against the city of Milwaukee.

I am the Commander of the Milwaukee American Legion Post 18 and a United States Air Force veteran. I have more details of this situation and can furnish it on request. Call or Email me. Our veterans deserve more than they are receiving now. [email protected]




March 1, 2007 - The Clement J. Zablocki Medical Center and Wood National Cemetery are a unique and sacred place for veterans, their families, and the citizens of Milwaukee and beyond. The oldest portion of these grounds dates back to the Civil War and represents 140 years of connections between veterans and the community who honors them. Milwaukee women raised the funds and built the Soldiers Home to care for those returning from battle during the Civil War. The grounds continued to expand and a group of beautiful historic buildings rose to form the historical district of these grounds. These grounds offer not only a medical facility for the care of veterans, but also a tranquil place for healing and reflection.

In addition, Wood National Cemetery, established by President Abraham Lincoln, is amongst the oldest Military Cemeteries in our country, is the final resting place to over 37,000 veterans. It has been closed to burials even though land still exits for expansion.

There is GREAT concern amongst veterans about the future of these grounds and buildings have been allowed to lapse into disrepair over the years by the stewards of this trust, the Veterans Administration. Now this same Administration has proposed selling off these lands in exchange for a pharmacy upgrade and removal of several steam pipelines. A VA that is willing to sell these historic grounds entrusted to them by the women of Milwaukee over a century ago for the care of veterans. It is only another example of a VA concerned with providing healthcare at the expense of the very veterans they serve.

Until days ago, we saw the City of Milwaukee, with a bevy of developers ready to seize upon on this opportunity and turn the very grounds and facilities dedicated for the healing of those who have gone in harms way into office buildings and more roadways. While expansive areas of Milwaukee lands, zoned for commercial and industrial use, lie fallow and neglected, the City targets for commercial development historic grounds held sacred by veterans and their families. Now, as thousands again return home from yet another war, this action can only be seen as callous at best.

The City clearly is not the right agency to entrust with the preservation of the grounds. The viability of their plan requires commercial development - development that will spell the end of this veterans sanctuary. Essentially, the citys argument is that it must destroy the grounds to save it.

For that and other reasons, this Community of Veterans in 2006 rejected the Citys development plans for the VA grounds. Since then, despite numerous public meeting held state wide, the City was prepared to go forward with this same plan with only cosmetic sound bite edits in order to wrap the package in words that include veteran, sensitive, and partnership. All this in an effort to make it saleable. The fact remains that this plan reveals that the City & the VA are ready to sell out the scared grounds and historical buildings built for the care of our nations veterans.

Points of contention by the Veterans Community:

We reject the building of office buildings where families should be allowed to bury their sons and daughters, next to their brothers and sisters who died in wars before them.
We reject the building of apartments where veterans needing treatment and housing are needed. We support the concept of this housing, but in countless areas of available and buildings throughout Milwaukee.
We reject spoiling the tranquility of these hallowed grounds so a road can be built to hurry commuters to Miller Park events and the Industrial Valley.
We reject the building of office buildings when a facility like the Fischer House, who cares for the families of the wounded in treatment, is sorely needed, has never even been requested by this VA.
We reject private development of these historic buildings when daycare facilities where taken away from the hospital staff treating our veterans and never replaced.
We reject private development of these buildings when Veteran groups have requested use of these same buildings to house their programs in care of our veterans. When homeless veterans struggle for shelter.
We reject private development of these facilities when an outdated Spinal Cord Unit endangers the very veterans returning from war today.

Let there be no doubt, we the Veterans community stand united and fully opposed to the City of Milwaukee Development or any other Commercial Developer on these hallowed VA grounds.

And in the next weeks, the Veterans Community will offer our own plan for the Rehabilitation of these grounds built out of the blood of the veterans who have gone before us, and allowed to fall in neglect and disrepair by the Veterans Administration charged with caring for its nations veterans. A VA now willing to sell off their sad legacy for a few gold coins, and a few steam pipes.

Veterans Service Organizations in opposition to Commercial Development at Zablocki Medical Center:
Allied Veterans Council of Milwaukee County
Veterans Board of Directors - Milwaukee County War Memorial
American Legion Department of Wisconsin
American Legion - Milwaukee County Council
American Legion - 4th District
American Legion - 5th District
Jewish War Veterans - State of Wisconsin
DAV - Disabled American Veterans - WI District Milwaukee
Vietnam Veterans of America - Milwaukee Chapter 324
Vietnam Veterans of America - Wisconsin State Council
Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans - Chapter One
South Milwaukee Historical Society
SE Wisconsin Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America
Military Order of the Purple Heart - Chapter 96
National Korean War Veterans
Marine Corp League - Badger Detachment
Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc.
Wisconsin American GI Forum
VFW - Post 1465 Wauwatosa
Milwaukee Metropolitan Non-Commissioned Officer’s Council
Allied Veterans Council of Milwaukee County
United Women Veterans
Milwaukee County Veterans Service Commission
Military Officers Association of America
American GI Forum - Wisconsin

Tending wounds of war. New UWM center will use latest technology to aid troops who lose limbs

[email protected]
Posted: Jan. 25, 2007

At a time when large numbers of soldiers are returning home injured from Iraq and Afghanistan, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee announced Thursday that it will open a new center that uses the latest technology to help veterans who have lost limbs in combat.

The university’s new $2.5 million Mobility Challenged Veterans Center will be paid for with private and public grants, including $1 million in federal money that U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) worked to secure.

“I don’t know anything about science, but what I do know is that the men and women who have laid their lives on the line for us, particularly now in Iraq and in Afghanistan, are coming back wounded in many, many ways,” Moore told about 50 people who had gathered at the university’s Klotsche Center.

“We have just had the 500th amputee return to us in dire need of some physical restoration. For every death that we mourn on the battlefield, there are 12 other soldiers who come back substantially injured, and 98 percent of those who come back wounded and injured need some sort of rehabilitative program,” she said.

More so than in past wars, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in high rates of veterans surviving their wounds. In World War II, Korea and Vietnam there were approximately three wounded soldiers for every soldier killed in combat. In Afghanistan and Iraq, there have been 12 wounded for every soldier killed.

The new UWM center, the only one of its kind in Wisconsin and one of just a handful in the U.S., will pool the work of engineers, rehabilitation scientists and clinicians, and include collaboration with Milwaukee’s Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Among other features, the center will use the latest dynamic radiography technology, a process that uses X-ray imaging to allow researchers to peer inside limbs to see the way joints move as a person walks or jumps. Using three-dimensional, real-time views of a limb’s internal structure, scientists can assess damage more accurately and design prosthetic limbs that will fit better and last longer.

“It’s 100 times more accurate than anything out there right now,” said Yiorgos Papaioannou, an assistant professor in human movement sciences at UWM.

Equipment and scientists

College of Health Sciences Dean Randall S. Lambrecht said the center should “be fully up and running sometime later this spring.” Most of the labs will be housed at the university’s Pavilion and the Cozzens & Cudahy Research Center at 9100 N. Swan Road, just north of Brown Deer Road. The federal money will be spent on equipment but also on bringing in scientists to fill in gaps in expertise, Lambrecht said.

The center will work with veterans on engineering and research. Lambrecht said he hopes that someday the university’s research program and the VA Medical Center will become a designated amputee center, a move that would bring research into the hospital.

Moore spoke of the new center as a concrete way to show support for the nation’s soldiers.

“You hear a lot of rhetoric. You watch C-SPAN and you hear us always talking about whether or not we’re going to support the troops,” Moore said. “But this is where the rubber meets the road - right here - in terms of helping our soldiers.”

Pre-2007 Archive

Last edited by Godsil. Based on work by Tyler Schuster, Olde, Donna Elliot, Olde Godsile, TeganDowling, g and Megan.  Page last modified on January 26, 2013

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