‘This is the right place at the right time’ for Dayton-based VA History Center, VA deputy secretary says

Drawn by the history of the Dayton VA center — and by plans to celebrate that history — a deputy secretary of veterans affairs visited the Dayton VA campus Thursday.

Plans are progressing for an estimated $100 million National VA History Center in two historic Dayton campus buildings: the Old Headquarters and the Clubhouse. The two buildings are among the oldest on the 450-acre campus, dating to 1871 and 1881.

There is no better place to celebrate the history of the nation’s work to support its veterans, said Deputy Secretary Donald Remy.

“This is the right place at the right time to bring together all the magnificent history of the Department of Veterans Affairs and to reflect upon the service that veterans have provided to this nation,” Remy said.

With fundraising helmed by the National VA History Center Foundation, the two-building center has a tentative opening set for 2026, said Bill DeFries, a Dayton businessman involved with fundraising efforts as a foundation trustee and resource development chair.

“We have to build out the space for a world-class museum,” said DeFries, who is chief executive of Copp Integrated Systems. “It’s going to highlight not just medical benefits ... It’s going to preserve the history of us caring for our veterans, going back all the way to the Revolutionary War.”

Dayton’s campus dates back to the 1867 creation of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, built to fulfill President Lincoln’s pledge to “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”

“This town has such great history supporting our veterans and our veteran community,” Remy said.

The stabilization phase of work on the two historic buildings slated for the center is complete, the VA said in January. The next phase, renovation of infrastructure, was to begin in the spring.

The site is envisioned as a home for vintage artifacts and archives from hundreds of VA locations. It will provide storage, preservation and access to these materials, with a museum and education center, with plans for access to digitized materials for researchers and virtual exhibits for the public.

Remy also toured a new addition to Dayton VA MRI lab, which will be opening soon.

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