Op Ed

Save the Milwaukee Soldiers Home

The 100 Extraordinary Women campaigns seeks volunteers, donors for this cause.

Photo by Matthew Gilson courtesy of The Milwaukee Soldiers Home.

Photo by Matthew Gilson.

This week, we celebrated International Women’s Day, a time to reflect on and honor the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. In Milwaukee, we don’t have to look far to see the impact women have had in our community, and in our lives. When we think about the impact of women in our community, one group, and one particular project is top-of-mind: The West Side Soldiers Aid Society, and the Milwaukee Soldiers Home.

In the 1860s, a group of extraordinary women who made up the West Side Soldiers Aid Society raised more than $110,000 – a staggering amount of money at the time – to create a permanent place to care for injured and disabled returning Civil War Veterans. Their commitment, in conjunction with legislation signed by Abraham Lincoln, made the Milwaukee Soldiers Home a reality. This was the beginning of veteran care in our country.

However, after years of deterioration, Old Main and other buildings made possible by the women of the West Side Soldiers Aid Society are vacant and endangered. Additionally, the number of local veterans who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness is shocking – and we believe, unacceptable. We believe if the women who founded the West Side Soldiers Aid Society were alive today, they would see this issue and would work tirelessly toward a solution. In their honor, that is what we are trying to do.

More than 150 years after the women of the West Side Soldiers Aid Society raised funds for veterans, we are working together to do the same. The 100 Extraordinary Women Initiative, part of the “Every Hero Deserves a Home” Campaign, will fund an aspect of the rehabilitation project that is near and dear to our hearts  – the Women’s Wing of Old Main, which will specifically serve homeless and at risk female veterans and their children. It will be a safe, secure space for these women to live and to thrive and it is a cause we are proud to support.

Fundraising efforts require sacrifice. We understand that. But who better to sacrifice for than the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for us? We hope you will join us in honoring the legacy of the women of the West Side Soldiers Aid Society by becoming one of the 100 Extraordinary Women.

Cecelia Gore is Executive Director of the Brewers Community Foundation and member of the Save the Soldiers Home Campaign’s Leadership Team, Dawn McCarthy is immediate past president of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance and member of the Campaign Leadership Team, Patti Keating Kahn is CEO of PK2group and co-chair of the Campaign, Laura Rinaldi is a former VA Medical Center employee and former chair of the Reclaiming Our Heritage events. Each has donated to the Soldiers Home’s Extraordinary Women campaign. To learn more and donate, please visit SavetheSoldiersHome.com/donate and select “I want to be an Extraordinary Woman”.

Categories: Op-Ed, Real Estate

3 thoughts on “Op Ed: Save the Milwaukee Soldiers Home”

  1. John says:

    Hasn’t this project already received Federal and State Historic Tax Credits as part of the redevelopment efforts?

  2. Jill says:

    The campaign goal is $4.25M – which will leverage an additional $36,000,000 to provide 101 units of housing for homeless veterans and provide community space and onsite veterans services.


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