The Human Machinery of War

The Human Machinery of War: Disability on the Front Lines and the Factory Floor, 1941-1945
Aiding the Disabled Soldier
Photograph: Nurse Applying Dressing to Injured Soldier in Army Hospital
Photograph: Nurse Pushes Injured Soldier in Wheelchair through Hospital Ward
Office of War Information, 1943,
"Second Lieutenant Frances Bullock applies a dressing to a wounded soldier's hand in an Army hospital."
Office of War Information, 1943,
"Nurse Frances Bullock wheels a wounded soldier back to his bed in the orthropedics [sic] ward of an Army hospital."
   
Photograph: Five Injured Soldiers and Two Nurses Conversing on a Porch of Walter Reed Hospital
Photograph: Disabled Soldier Uses Prosthetic Hooks to Maneuver Pieces on a Board
Office of War Information, 1943,
"Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. Convalescent soldiers on a porch."
"Here Pvt. Joseph Feft, Pittsburg [sic], an Anzio beachhead casualty, manipulates his hook to move various checkers," 1944
The Extent of the Problem
Excerpt from Frank A. Reister, ed., Medical Department, United States Army, Medical Statistics in World War II (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1976), 13, 23.
U. S. ARMY SEPARATIONS

There were 1,094,238 separations during 1942-45, of which 994,241 (91 percent) were disability discharges and the balance 99,997 (9 percent) were administrative separations for inaptness, undesirable habits, and other nonmedical reasons. Of the 994,241 disability separations, 86 percent resulted from disease, 3 percent from nonbattle injuries, and 11 percent from wounds. When related to strength, these disability discharges occurred during 1942-45 at an annual rate per 1,000 of 33.6 for disease, 1.4 for nonbattle injury, and 4.3 for wounds. . . .

[T]hese counts of disability separations, . . . pertain only to those who were during the 4-year period of the war (1942-45). Actually, the total number ultimately separated for disability, among admissions for all causes during 1942-45, amounted to 1,053,533. Of this total, 82 percent (862,356) were due to disease, 5 percent (50,520) to nonbattle injuries, and 13 percent (140,657) to battle injuries and wounds. . . . In terms of annual rates per 1,000, the number of ultimate disability separations amounted to 34.0 per 1,000 for disease, 2.0 for nonbattle injury, and 5.6 for wounds--all of which are higher than the rates restricted to patients separated during the 1942-45 period. . . .

U. S. ARMY BATTLE SEPARATIONS FOR DISABILITY
. . . . Among the 108,114 battle separations for disability through 31 December 1945, there were 9,434 major amputations: 3,456 single amputations of upper extremities, 5,482 single amputations of lower extremities, 60 double amputations of upper extremities, and 436 double lower-extremity amputations. There were 573 hemiplegics, 294 paraplegics, 326 with facial paralysis, 10,853 with partial paralysis of part of one or both extremities, and 791 with unspecified paralysis. Disability separations due to blindness among wounded patients numbered 1,706 through 31 December 1945: 1,583 with total blindness in one eye, 45 partially blind in both eyes, and 78 with total blindness in both eyes. There were 133 deaf in both ears, 250 partially deaf in both ears, and 597 discharged with defective hearing. . . .
Tackling the Problem: Rehabilitation
From U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Labor, Subcommittee to Investigate Aid to the Physically Handicapped, Hearings, Part 1, Aid to the Blind, 78th Congress, Second Session (Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office, 1945), 153, 155, 157.
STATEMENT OF VICE ADMIRAL ROSS T McINTIRE, SURGEON GENERAL, UNITED STATES NAVY, CHIEF, BUREAU OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY, NAVY DEPARTMENT

Admiral McIntire. . . . We feel that we are approaching the rehabilitation program in a much more sensible light than we did in World War I. It makes no difference what the handicap is--whether a man is deaf, has lost an arm or a leg, or is blind, he should be taught from the beginning that he is not so handicapped that he will not be a useful citizen in his community throughout his life. In my estimation the approach should be made on this basis and it is the responsibility of all of us to see that that comes true.

If we go about this right from the very day that this man is injured, if, psychologically, he is taught that this situation can be brought about, and if we take positive steps from that time on to show him that it can be done, we will be able to do a first-rate job in rehabilitation.

A man who comes back from this war, who has been unfortunate enough to be injured, and as a consequence receives a pension from the Government--must be made to understand that the pension he receives, and which he should receive, is not something to allow him just to sit back or to eke out an existence, but that it is his security throughout his life, and that he should be a useful citizen and make his way, earning his living. We are basing our rehabilitation program on that thesis. . . .

We have learned that the worst thing we can do for any man, whether he has lost an arm or a leg, or has some other disability, is to keep him in the hospital; when you do that you do something to him, as you take away some of his initiative. So, in working out our rehabilitation program we intend to do everything we can to provide for that hiatus in the steps in our rehabilitation program. . . .

In two of our large hospitals we have had experimental programs going on, for about a year and a half, in which certain industrial organizations are coming in and teaching our men how to do certain jobs so that they will be ready for employment when they are able to leave the hospitals. They are taught their tasks during the period they are in the hospitals, and they are on the pay roll while they are being taught. . . .

Photograph: Nurse Applying Dressing to Injured Soldier in Army Hospital Photograph: Nurse Pushes Injured Soldier in Wheelchair through Hospital Ward Photograph: Five Injured Soldiers and Two Nurses Conversing on a Porch of Walter Reed Hospital Photograph: Disabled Soldier Uses Prosthetic Hooks to Maneuver Pieces on a Board