Dayton could become home of VA archives, lawmakers say

Consolidating records here would bring new jobs, Ohio delegation said.

Ohio’s congressional delegation has renewed its push to have the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs locate a consolidated archive of the department’s records in Dayton.

If Dayton is chosen, the Veterans Affairs Health Administration Archives would be located in two buildings more than a century old at the VA Medical Center campus in Dayton, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich and Rep. Mike Turner said Friday, July 23.

They and the rest of Ohio’s congressional delegation signed a letter sent Friday to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

The VA has been reluctant to say how many would be employed at the archive, although a likely number is about 25, said Lauren Kulik, a spokeswoman for Brown.

The VA won’t say when it will decide.

“This is in the early stages of discussion,” said Drew Brookie, VA’s deputy press secretary in Washington, D.C.

The Dayton VA operation dates to 1867, began as a home for disabled Civil War soldiers, and is home to a national cemetery.

According to Brown, the buildings that would house the archive are Building 116, currently unoccupied, which housed the operation’s headquarters starting in 1871, and Building 129, currently a police service building erected in 1881.

In April 2009, VA historian Darlene Richardson told a group of Dayton regional leaders that the Veterans Health Administration — part of the VA — was considering Dayton and Milwaukee as sites for the archive. Milwaukee is home to a VA facility as old as Dayton’s.

Richardson said then that “we are leaning toward Dayton” and she hoped the VA would make the decision by the end of 2009.

Friday, the lawmakers said that consolidating the archives in Dayton would provide the economic boost of new jobs.

“Ohio is home to nearly one million veterans and world-class VA facilities, and the proud military tradition of the region would make it a fitting home to the VHA archives,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to the VA.

“If Dayton is chosen, the facility would be open to the public and would be the central location for all records, photos and information gathered by the VHA over the years,” Brown said in the news release accompanying the letter.

The proposed location at the Dayton VA Medical Center would complement the Third Street historical corridor that includes the Wright brothers’ bicycle shop, the home of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, the Wright brothers’ airplane factory and a building that was part of the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb, Brown said.

The VA archives staff could work with Wright State University’s graduate program in historical and archival administration, he noted.

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