Cover

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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

I am indebted to teachers, archivists, colleagues, friends, and family and am grateful for the opportunity to thank them. Scholars at the University of Rochester and Columbia University provided perspective on the rigors and rewards of studying history. Daniel H. Borus and Robert B. Westbrook awakened me to...

Abbreviations Used in the Text

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pp. xi-xiv

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Introduction. War and Federally Sponsored Health Care

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pp. 1-9

One night in 1974, Leonard Poirier sat up in bed and started to strangle his wife. Four decades later he recalled that he had no idea what he was doing; he had been having a nightmare about Vietnam. During the day, Poirier could drink at the Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion post and “store it in the back...

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1. An Extra-Hazardous Occupation: Preparing for the Health Outcomes of War

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pp. 10-42

In the summer of 1918, as Allied and German troops endured mustard gas and shell explosions in northern France, Spanish-American War veteran Patrick O’Donnell penned a letter from his house in Massachusetts to the Eastern branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Maine. He wondered...

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2. A Stupendous Task: The Challenges of Domestic Military Health Care

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pp. 43-82

Paul A. Bazaar recalled spending his early days at Walter Reed Hospital in “sober reflection.” The long, bed-lined wards were a world away from the front, where Bazaar lost both of his hands when a grenade detonated prematurely. At Walter Reed, he said, “I painfully nursed the birth of a new hope, I made that little...

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3. War Is Hell but after Is “Heller”: An Army Responsibility Becomes a Societal Obligation

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pp. 83-120

In July 1920, Mother Marianne of Jesus was especially worried about two types of patients who occupied the New Jersey convalescent home she managed. First there were the “chronic cases, such as cardiacs, sufferers from sub-acute nervous disorders, &c.” Harry Fisher, for example, had “returned home a nervous wreck”...

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4. The Debt We Owe Them: Advocating, Funding, and Planning for Veterans’ Health Care

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pp. 121-155

On a fair spring day in March 1920, members of the American Legion’s National Executive Committee gathered for a closed-door meeting in the nation’s capital. They had come from all over the country to testify in Congress about the necessity for more government benefits for veterans of the recent war...

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5. Administrative Geometry: Creating and Growing the Veterans Bureau and Its Hospitals

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pp. 156-191

It was paradoxical. Warren G. Harding and his underlings blazed into office guaranteeing they would streamline the federal bureaucracy. But they simultaneously promised that theirs would “go down in history as an administration that did not forget its sick and wounded soldiers, and brought peace and contentment...

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6. I Never Did Feel Well Again: Entrenching a Federal Health System

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pp. 192-226

There was rarely an indisputable case. Elam Shirk had served in the army for eight years, including twelve months in France, when he was assigned to be a meat handler at Walter Reed Hospital in 1919. There, he worked with sides of beef upward of 130 pounds and threw out his back. “From then on,” he wrote in...

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7. State Medicine: Enduring under Fire

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pp. 227-252

The United Spanish War Veterans of Topeka, Kansas, felt swindled. In 1933, a 58-year-old former service member who traced his malaria and diabetes to the time he spent in Cuba suddenly stopped receiving his $60 per month compensation. After an appeal, the VA agreed to pay him $9 per month. Another veteran...

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Conclusion. The Legacy of Great War Health Policy

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pp. 253-264

In June 1942, six months after the United States entered World War II, Frank Hines, administrator of the Veterans Administration, declared that aging World War I veterans being admitted to VA hospitals for neuropsychiatric diseases required “considerably more continuous medical and nursing attention than a...

Notes

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pp. 265-328

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Essay on Sources

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pp. 329-340

This book showcases how government officials, soldiers, veterans, advocacy groups, and caregivers, among others, influenced, viewed, and experienced the creation and growth of the veterans’ health system. In this section I describe where I found perspectives from members of those groups, beginning with a...

Index

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pp. 341-353