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The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) dates back to the post–World War I years and the need to care for Arkansas residents disabled during the war. It underwent transformation broadening its scope during World War II and following the Vietnam War. At present, ADVA operates two homes for disabled veterans, as well as two veterans’ cemeteries, and acts as a liaison for state residents and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The first move by people in the state to care for veterans in a systematized manner was the creation of the Arkansas Confederate Home in 1890, which provided care and services to indigent Confederate veterans and their widows. In 1891, the home secured an appropriation from the Arkansas General Assembly, thus committing the state to services for veterans. Act 343, which passed the state legislature on April 1, 1925, created the Arkansas Services Bureau in response to the numbers of disabled World War I veterans in the state, though it explicitly covered all veterans. The bureau was to be headed by a governor-appointed director. It became the Arkansas Veterans Services Office after the passage of Act 234 on March 20, 1945, at the tail end of World War II. The act gave the director authority “to arrange for and accept through such mutual arrangement as may be made, the volunteer services, equipment, facilities, properties, supplies and personnel of any state, county and municipal offices and agencies and of veterans’, fraternal, welfare, civic, and service organizations.” The act also required each county judge to appoint a county service officer to carry out the provisions of the act within the county.
The department assumed its present incarnation following Act 324, approved on March 8, 1979. Act 324 called upon the department to maintain an Arkansas Veterans Home at the former site of the Arkansas School for the Blind and the Arkansas School for the Deaf; it also created a Governor’s Task Force on Veterans Affairs, consisting of people appointed by the governor, to oversee the veterans’ home.
ADVA provides nursing-home care for disabled veterans at two facilities. Arkansas State Veterans Home in Little Rock (Pulaski County), a nursing home for disabled Arkansas veterans who were honorably discharged, was constructed in 1980, replacing the former veterans’ home. The Fayetteville Veterans Home in Fayetteville (Washington County) accepted its first resident on June 21, 2006; though residents do not have to meet Arkansas residency guidelines, preference is given to state residents. ADVA manages the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), which was dedicated on November 11, 2001 (Veterans Day). It also manages the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in Birdeye (Cross County), established in 2012. The department maintains its Veterans Service Division inside the regional office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at Fort Roots in North Little Rock; this division facilitates communication with the federal government and provides assistance in the claims process for state veterans. Other benefits provided by ADVA include special license plates, tax exemptions, special hunting and fishing licenses, special camping rates, preference in state hiring, free tuition for spouses and children of veterans at state-supported institutions of higher education, and employment assistance.
For additional information:Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. http://www.veterans.arkansas.gov (accessed December 2, 2017).
Dungan, Tracie. “So Far, New 108-Bed Home for Veterans Caring for 30.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. October 14, 2006, pp. 1B, 7B.
Staff of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 12/2/2017
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