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The National Home For Disabled Volunteer Soldiers
A Memorandum 1917

The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers

A Memorandum



Headquarters, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, National Military Home, Ohio

February 10, 1917


1.  The National Home for D.V.S. has its origin in the act of March 3, 1865, which was amended by the act of March 21, 1866, establishing the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, providing that the President of the United States, Secretary of War, Chief Justice of the United States, and such other persons as may from time to time be associated with them, according to the provisions of the act, be constituted and established a Board of Managers of an establishment for the care and relief of the disabled volunteers of the United States Army.  The act further provided for the selection of nine managers by Joint Resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives.  By subsequent legislation the name has been changed by substituting the word “Home” for the word “Asylum.”   The number of managers has been changed several times, the present law providing for seven.  The purpose and general provisions of the act have not been materially changed except to extend the benefits of the Home to certain classes of disabled soldiers, sailors, and marines not originally provided for.

2.  As the law now stands the following persons are eligible for admission to the National Home:  All honorably discharged officers, soldiers, and sailors who served in the regular or volunteer forces of the United states in any war in which the country has been engaged, including the Spanish-American War, the provisional army (authorized by Act of Congress, approved March 2, 1899), in any of the campaigns against hostile Indians, or who have served in the Philippines, in China, or in Alaska, who are disabled by disease, wounds, or otherwise and who have no adequate means of support, are not otherwise provided for by law, and be reasons of such disability are incapable of earning their living.

3.  Under the above authority and as authorized by subsequent acts of Congress, branches of the Home have been established as follows:

4.  The Eastern, At Togus, Maine, opened for use 1866; average membership 1916, present and absent 1664, present 1203.

5.  The Central, at first located at Columbus, Ohio, but removed to the vicinity of Dayton the same year, opened for use 1867; average membership 1916, present and absent 3657, present 2883.

6.  The Northwestern, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, opened for use 1867; average membership 1916, present and absent 1745, present 1438.

7.  The Southern, at Hampton Virginia, opened for use 1867; average membership 1916, present and absent 2420, present 1896.

8.  The Western, near Leavenworth, Kansas, opened for use 1885; average membership 1916, present and absent 2884, present 2192.

9.  The Pacific, near Santa Monica, California, opened for use 1888; average membership 1916, present and absent 3415, present 2517.

10.  The Marion, near Marion, Indiana, opened for use 1890; average membership 1916, present and absent 1624, present 1279.

11.  The Danville, near Danville, Illinois, opened for use 1898; average membership 1916, present and absent 2364, present 1911.

12.  The Mountain, near Johnson City, Tennessee, opened for use 1903; average membership 1916, present and absent 1487, present 1127.

13.  The Battle Mountain Sanitarium, at Hot Springs, South Dakota, opened for use 1907; average membership 1916, present and absent 509, present 366.

14.  The organization of each Branch Home consists of a Governor, Treasurer, Quartermaster, a Surgeon with a competent staff of assistants, and other subordinate officers, non-commissioned officers, and employees necessary for the operation of the Branch.

15.  At each of the above Branches there are provided:

Quarters for members, good substantial buildings equipped with bath rooms, hot and cold water, lavatories and toilets, and furnished with comfortable beds and bedding, the general plan being similar to that of the Army, barracks with rooms of from ten to twenty-five beds.  This plan has been modified to meet the changed conditions, the increased age and infirmities of members, and at each Branch “Combination Barracks,” that is, barracks with kitchen and dining-room service in the same building, have been established.  These modified barracks are being extended as the need arises.

  Suitable mess halls, kitchens and bakeries with proper utensils and equipment for preparing and serving food.

  An ample hospital, bed capacity sufficient to care for one-fourth of the members present, comfortably furnished, amply equipped with modern instruments, appliances and apparatus necessary for the proper care of the sick.  At four Branches, special facilities for treatment of tubercular patients.  The hospitals of the Home are equal in points of efficiency and equipment to the best in the country.

  Store houses for the care and protection of supplies.

  Church buildings for Protestant and Catholic services.

  A band, theatre and amusement hall for the entertainment and amusement of members.

  A library furnished with from eight to fifteen thousand volumes, daily newspapers, magazines, etc., for members’ instruction and entertainment.

  Buildings for the executive offices, etc.

  A laundry and dry cleaning plant, with equipment for washing and cleaning the underwear and clothing of members.  For the year ending June 30, 1916, there was a total of 8,196,376 pieces washed and cleaned.

  Stables, necessary out-buildings to care for stock, implements, etc. required in the operation of the Branch.

  Power houses for supplying heat, light, etc.

  Complete water, sewage, and telephone systems.

  A park system, including cemetery, decoration of grounds with flowers and shrubbery; roads, walks, etc.

16.  The Organic Act authorized the Board of Managers to receive gifts or donations of money or property.  There has been donated 1811 acres of land, of appraised value, $1,552,976.00.  Funds received by donation and from profits arising from “Post Fund” operations have been invested in buildings and permanent improvements of an appraised value, $598,555.00  The total reservations at the several Branches comprise 8680 acres, of an appraised value, $2,354,875.00, on which there are buildings and permanent improvements of an appraised value, $10,156,303.00

17.  Beginning with the first year of the Home’s existence, 1867, with an average present of 479, the numbers steadily increased year by year until 1906, when there was an average present throughout the year of 21,105.  Since then there has been a gradual decrease, the average present for the year ending June 30, 1916, being 17,039.

18.  There have been 137,075 original admissions, that is, that number of soldiers have entered the Home since its organization.  Some of these have been discharged, dropped from the rolls and readmitted to the Home, so that they are counted more than once in the whole number cared for since the establishment of the Home, which is 214,703.

19.  Of the whole number cared for during the year ending June 30, 1916, 30,741, there were treated in the hospital 12,609, and at sick call 17,032.

20.  The average age of the members of the Home in 1916 was 67.38; of those who served in the Civil War 73.96; of those who served in the Spanish American War and other service 47.77

21.  The Act of Congress of March 3, 1875, repealed so much of the Organic Act as provided that stoppages or fines adjudged by Courts Martial or Military Commissions, forfeitures on account of desertion, and unclaimed moneys due deceased officers and soldiers should be appropriated for the support of the Home, and provided for its support by direct and specific annual appropriations by Congress.  Under the provisions of this act there has been disbursed for the support of the Home, to include the fiscal year 1916, $115,591,174.02.

22.  The Act of Congress of August 27, 1888, provided for the payment of Federal aid to States maintaining homes for the care of disabled veterans, and provided for the inspection of such homes and payment of the amounts to which the States were entitled under the act by the Board of Managers of the National Home for D.V.S. There has been disbursed under this authority, to include the fiscal year 1916, $24,261.961.31.

23.  The Act of Congress of February 26, 1881, which was amended by Act of Congress of August 7, 1882, provided that pension money payable or to be paid to pensioners, members of the National Home, be paid to the treasurers of the Home to be disbursed for the benefit of the pensioners without deduction for fines or penalties under regulations to be established by the Board of Managers.  Under this authority there has been disbursed from 1882 to June 30, 1916, $90,200,834.31.  Under regulations provided by the Board of Managers, upon the request of a pensioner, his pension or such part as he may direct, is paid to his dependent wife or other relative.

24.  The disbursement of all the above funds has been made by the General Treasurer and the several Branch treasurers, all bonded officers, under the supervision of the President of the Board of Managers and the Governors of the several Branches, without loss or defalcation.

25.  All the property of the Home, including equipment, supplies, etc. required for its operation, has been handled by the General Treasurer and the several Branch quartermasters, who are also bonded officers, without any avoidable waste or loss.

26.  A General Depot has been established at the Central Branch, Dayton, Ohio, with facilities for the manufacture of uniform clothing for the members.

27.  For the government of the Home, laws and regulations have been established, and revised from time to time.  A general supply list, embracing all articles on the general market necessary for use at the Branches, has been provided, and revised and added to upon suggestion that additional articles were required.  This supply list provides for the purchase of articles of the best quality, and for subsistence supplies covers practically all articles on the market.

28,  The House Regulations provide that the proper officers of the Branch Homes shall submit estimates for the purchase or the supplies required for use, and with regard to subsistence read as follows:

“The rations will be sufficient in quantity and variety and in suitable proportions of meat, fish, cereals, vegetables and fruit, the age and physical condition of the members being considered.  Coffee, tea, sugar, milk and the usual table condiments will also be provided.”

29.    The Board of Managers, at present is composed of the following members, elected by Joint Resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives.  Date of expiration of term of each follows the name:

Gen. Geo. H. Wood, President, Dayton, Ohio.  1918.

Capt. John C. Nelson, 1st Vice-President, Logansport, Indiana.  1918.

Capt. Thos. S. Bridgham, 2d Vice-President, Buckfield, Maine.  1916.

Hon. James S. Catherwood, Secretary, Hoopeston, Illinois.  1918.

Major James W. Wadsworth, Geneseo, N.Y.  1916.

Col. H. H. Markham, Pasadena, California.  1916.

Col. Fred J. Close, Kansas City, Kansas.  1916.

30.    In the executive office of the Home, now located at National Military Home, Ohio, there are the President of the Board of Managers, one General Treasurer, one Inspector-General and Chief Surgeon; one Assistant General Treasurer and Assistant Inspector-General, one Assistant Inspector-General, and eight clerks.

31.    In accordance with the Organic Act, the Board of Managers meets quarterly.  These meetings are held at the different Branches and at each meeting one or more of the Branches are inspected by the Members of the Board, and complaints of members of the Home are heard and adjusted.  In this way all the Branches are visited and inspected by the Board during the year.

32.    The Inspectors-General of the Home have each year made two regular inspections of the several Branches and of the State Homes, reporting to the Board of Managers.

33.    The rules and general plan of operation of the Home have been adopted form time to time, as suggested by the needs and developments during the past fifty years’ experience.

34.    At the ten Branches there were employed, as shown by the returns for the year ending June 30, 1916, 107 officers, 2591 members, 1772 civilians.

35.    The management has endeavored at all times to secure officers and employees who would render faithful and efficient service and devote themselves to the interests of the Home, promoting the welfare and comfort of the members.  In general, this object has been attained.

36.    In accordance with the provisions of the Act of Congress of 1894, an inspection of the Home has been made each year by an officer of the Inspector-General’s Department, U.S. Army, and these officers have carefully and closely investigated all departments of the Home, its methods and discipline, and made full complete reports.  These reports have been transmitted to Congress, published and distributed as Public Documents.

37.    It has been the sole aim and object of the Board of Managers to carry out the intent and purpose of the Organic Act—to provide for the comfort, welfare, and happiness of the members, and to accomplish this it has striven to administer the affairs of the Home efficiently and with due regard to economy.

Geo. H. Wood

President of the Board of Managers