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Social scientists and historians seeking to conceptualize the processes of identity and group formation among disabled veterans of military service in Western societies usually attribute the rise and development of disabled veterans as a social group to a relationship to the modem welfare state, which has been generous in distributing resources and recognitions to those injured or becoming chronically ill while serving in armed force. In this understanding, disabled veterans attain social identities and form organizations through their efforts to influence state policies and to attain enhanced benefits. The essay argues this perspective is limited by a failure to understand the larger context of the lives of disabled veterans. Through examination of the collective experience of adjustment of adult men to life-transforming impairments, the essay offers an alternative perspective that emphasizes the disabled veterans' agency in seeking to define their own needs in pursuit of a normalized existence. While acknowledging the need for state assistance, disabled veterans have frequently been wary of excessive dependence on the state as limiting the attainment of normalization.