Foundation donors rally behind Soldiers Home

Like the interlocking Cream City brick that distinguishes much of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, the community is joining together to restore and reactivate some of the oldest and most iconic buildings on the Veterans Affairs grounds. Through philanthropic co-investment that includes passionate donors of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the effort will not only preserve history, it will provide a secure future for veterans in need of affordable housing.

At the heart of a dynamic network of public and private partners is the Save the Soldiers Home initiative, which has not only brought awareness to the campus but presented a vision for six of the 25 buildings in the Milwaukee Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District to be converted into more than 100 apartments for veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and their families. The community has responded to bring that vision to life.

Norman and Joanne Seeger were among a group of Foundation donors and other funders who toured the grounds in October and were inspired to support the project. Through their Seeger Family Foundation at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the Seegers provided funding for three housing units. Their gifts carried special meaning as they honored loved ones, including their departed parents, their sons and their families, and their extended families – all as a family Christmas celebration. These families include three military veterans and one first responder.

“Our passion is a combination of stewardship – sharing our time and talents in addition to our treasures,” Joanne Seeger said. “The Soldiers Home project not only involves historic preservation, but also offers our family a unique opportunity to express our gratitude through servitude to all military branches and particularly to our veterans.”

Twenty-one GMF donors have given or pledged a gift to the fundraising effort led by the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance. A number of donors contributed after reading our initial article in the Fall 2017 Greater Together magazine while others requested tours. To date, more than $1.2 million in communitywide philanthropic support (including gifts and pledges) has been raised in a $4.25 million campaign that complements $36 million secured through tax credits and grants.

You can help meet the remaining need through a donation to the Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home Fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

“The final outcome of this entire project is limited only by the visionary imaginations and the generosity of we, the people,” said Joanne Seeger, who has added her volunteer spirit to the project by serving on the Campaign Leadership Committee. “By providing homes for heroes, we not only honor our homeless veterans but render help for humanity.”

In their own words: Read about the Seeger family’s connection to Milwaukee Soldiers Home.

Other key partners include the Department of Veterans Affairs; Alexander Company, who is handling the restoration; the City of Milwaukee Housing Authority, which will manage the apartments; and the Center for Veterans Issues, which will provide onsite support services for tenants.

Read more about the project’s origins at