VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTER, DALLAS
VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTER, DALLAS. The Veterans Affairs Medical Center, formerly the Veterans Administration Hospital, Dallas, is located at the intersection of State Highway 342 and Ann Arbor Road at 4500 Lancaster Road in Dallas. On November 15, 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt formally approved the funds to build a hospital for the treatment of veterans on 244 acres of the Byrd E. White tract, between the communities of Lisbon and Lancaster, to serve Dallas, Fort Worth, and surrounding communities. It had a projected cost of $1.2 million. When constructed it consisted of eleven buildings, including a five-story brick and stone main building, a dining hall, a nurses' home, a managers' home, an attendants' home, various maintenance buildings, and a garage for emergency vehicles. The hospital was officially dedicated on October 27, 1940, but more than 200 patients had already been admitted to the 265-bed hospital, which employed 200. The hospital was located at the time in the community of Lisbon, near the Dallas city limits. By June 1944, many World War II veterans were being treated at the hospital. When they reached the hospital they were taken out of service because the hospital could only treat veterans, not currently enlisted men.
Throughout the years additions were made to the original hospital; the first was a steel recreation building in 1947. The next addition more than doubled the number of available beds in 1955 with an eight-floor addition. Originally, instead of additions and renovations to the old hospital, construction of a new hospital near Southwestern Medical School was planned, but it proved more cost effective to renovate the old hospital. The addition had a large section for neuropsychiatric patients, nine operating rooms, and fourteen recreation rooms. Although most patients were treated for chronic diseases, general surgeries and neurological surgery were performed as well. The 585 employees primarily treated veterans from World War I, but there also many from World War II and several from the Spanish-American War. Hospital treatment was free for service-related injuries or any veteran who certified he could not pay for the treatment. Renovations were once again undertaken in 1967, when the hospital received funds from the government for a $9.2 million renovation. The two main buildings of the hospital were air-conditioned, a four-story building was constructed between them, and the former nurses' home was converted to a mental hygiene and day treatment center. At that time the hospital had 778 beds. Three years later, in 1970, the hospital was among the ten largest of 166 veterans hospitals in the United States. There were 1,182 full-time employees, including sixty-one full-time physicians, in addition to the volunteers. The hospital remained the same size until 1985, when a nursing home was built. By 1992, when it was called the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, plans were being made to substantially expand the hospital, almost doubling the space to two million feet by the year 2000. This would make it one of the largest and most technologically advanced hospitals in the nation. Congress passed the funding proposal, which was included in the appropriations bill for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition to providing better care for the 1,000 veterans who visited the hospital every day, the expansion would create 300 new jobs in the Oak Cliff area.
Dallas Journal, November 13, 1938. Dallas Morning News, November 8, 1955, April 9, 1967, March 7, 1992. Dallas Times Herald, October 20, 1940.