The Problem of the Pensioner

in War's Waste

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780226482538
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226482552 | DOI:
The Problem of the Pensioner

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This chapter addresses the story of why Progressive Era reformers wanted to overhaul the pension system and how the call for reform set into motion the eventual institutionalization of rehabilitation. The promise of rehabilitation was that it would get veterans back into the workforce, making them productive, tax-paying citizens. The Revolutionary War Pension Act of 1818 weakened the republic, creating a privileged class subsidized by taxes on the poor. The General Law and the National Home for Disabled Soldiers moved a country that was historically suspicious of consolidated federal power into a full-fledged welfare provider. The War Risk Insurance Act (WRIA) encouraged disabled soldiers coming back from the Great War to marry, have children, and become breadwinners again, working outside the home. In the minds of its framers, if rehabilitation was compulsory, then more men could be restored to the workplace, thus decreasing the costs of federal disbursements.

Keywords: pension system; rehabilitation; institutionalization; Progressive Era reformers; Pension Act; General Law; Disabled Soldiers; WRIA

Chapter.  10566 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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