EAST ORANGE, NJ - A delegation of over 50 seniors, veterans, and employees went to the state capitol on Thursday, July 20th to demonstrate support for the designation of the East Orange Veterans Administration Hospital as a national historic site.
A public hearing was held in the Department of Environmental Protection Building at 401 East State Street in Trenton, NJ. Director of Property Maintenance Dwight Saunders and Director of Public Safety Sheilah Coley, both veterans, led the delegation on behalf of Mayor Lester E. Taylor III and the City of East Orange.
Built in the modern Art Deco architectural style in 1950 and opened in 1952, the East Orange complex — with its nine original buildings — is one of only two VA New Jersey Health Care Campuses in the State of New Jersey. Constructed to serve veterans returning from World War II, the 32-acre was the former estate of retail mogul Louis Bamberger of L. Bamberger & Co. Department Store in Newark, NJ. Designed by the architecture firm of Ziegler, Childs, & Paulsen, the hospital has remained a leading researcher and health care provider for nearly seven decades.
In the early 60s, one of the VA’s pioneering researchers, Dr. Oscar Auerbach, proved the connection between smoking and lung cancer which ultimately led to the Surgeon General’s health warning on cigarette packages. In the 90s, the hospital continued its trailblazing research and became one of three VA hospitals to study the effects of environmental hazards on veterans of the Persian Gulf War.
“The East Orange Veterans Administration Hospital is much more than a historical landmark. It is a place where ground-breaking history was made, transforming health care not just for veterans, but for everyone living in the United States of America. With the quality of care of our veterans currently under much criticism and scrutiny, East Orange is proud to be home to a model program for providing exceptional care to improve the health and wellbeing of our veterans,” said Mayor Lester E. Taylor III. “By designating the East Orange VA as a historic site, the State of New Jersey is officially preserving a rich legacy of service and compassionate care that this facility has provided for those who have sacrificed the most.”