“It’s all about educating people about veterans,” Kirkpatrick said. “The percentage of people who are veterans is getting smaller and smaller, so one of our big goals is to educate the community about what veterans do.”
The Fairborn Area Historical Society is also in the process of developing a museum at the former St. Mark’s Church at 100 E. Main St. Curators say they plan to partner with together to spur economic development.
“Small-town museums are great for communities,” Kirkpatrick said. “It brings people in who eat in your restaurants, stay in your hotels, shop in your businesses. It gives them a reason to come to a community.”
Museum public relations director Cathy Beers-Conrad said that attendance numbers for the museum at the Dayton VA were around 5,000 per year, with their patriotic holiday open houses hosting up to 250 people in 2019. At their new location, Beers-Conrad expects that number will skyrocket.
“We get a lot of grandfathers, who are able to bring their grandchildren and say ‘that’s what I used,’ And the kids go ‘wow, that’s what grandma or grandpa used to do.’ That’s one of the coolest parts to me,” said Beers-Conrad.
Though they are moving off of the VA campus, the museum will continue to support the Dayton VA, including sending Christmas gifts to hospice and dialysis patients.
“Nothing that we do on campus will ever stop,” Beers-Conrad said.
Individuals interested in volunteering at the museum should contact (937) 409-4529.
Masks are required on opening day regardless of vaccination status.