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Following the Civil War, a large number of indigent and disabled veterans were no longer able to earn their own livelihood and needed care. While the Federal Government operated national homes for disabled union volunteer soldiers, the total number of veterans needing care was overwhelming. In recognition of this need, and the debt that a grateful nation owed its defenders, a number of states independently established State Veterans Homes (SVHs) to help care for those who had borne the battle. The first State Veterans Home was established in Rocky Hill, Connecticut in 1864.

The first enactment that provided for payment of federal aid ($100/year) to such states occurred on August 7, 1888, when federal sharing was authorized to help alleviate the burden placed upon states. With the establishment of the Veterans Administration in 1930 to care for an ever-increasing number of veterans, the state programs were expanded to include three levels of care, increased per diem payments and federal funding for construction of facilities.

The National Association of State Veterans Homes (NASVH) was conceived at a New England organizational meeting in 1952 because of the mutual need of State Homes to promote legislation at the national level and share common problems and experiences.

The National Association of State Veterans Homes' primary mission is to promote and enhance the quality of care and life of Veterans and families in the State Veterans homes through education, networking, and advocacy.