Historical discussion: According to historian David A. Gerber, “With a sharply divided consciousness that both honored the veteran and feared his potential to disrupt society, Americans in 1945 prepared to receive and reintegrate millions of demobilized men. The return of the disabled veteran gave rise to particularly acute anxieties, for his difficulties in adjusting to civilian life would be compounded by his injuries” (Gerber 70).
Scholar Albert E. Cowdrey contends, “The postwar medical systems that treated veterans reflected their political influence and the compassion or bad conscience of civilians, not the needs of armies present or future. The medical systems did more than support the fighting strength; through them, the demands of humanity overlaid and mingled with the destructive impulses of war” (Cowdrey 8).
While home front propaganda metaphorically linked industrial accidents to disaster for individual soldiers, the legislation passed and programs developed to benefit disabled veterans would help to set the groundwork for policy initiatives and expand opportunities for disabled civilians.
See David A. Gerber, “Heroes and Misfits: The Troubled Social Reintegration of Disabled Veterans in The Best Years of Our Lives,” in Disabled Veterans in History, ed. David A. Gerber, 70-95 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000); Albert E. Cowdrey, Fighting for Life: American Military Medicine in World War II (New York: The Free Press, 1994).