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Veterans' Policies, Veterans' PoliticsNew Perspectives on Veterans in the Modern United States$
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Stephen R. Ortiz

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813042077

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813042077.001.0001

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“Put Fighting Blood in Your Business”

“Put Fighting Blood in Your Business”

The U.S. War Department and the Reemployment of World War I Soldiers

(p.119) 5 “Put Fighting Blood in Your Business”
Veterans' Policies, Veterans' Politics

Nancy Gentile Ford

University Press of Florida

The demobilization of some four million American soldiers at the end of World War I occurred simultaneously with widespread social unrest, rising unemployment, and economic hardship characterized by frequent labor strikes and the nation's first Red Scare. Successful solutions to combat the political and economic crisis did not come from Progressive reforms, the U.S. Labor Department, Congress, or the White House, but from an unlikely source—the U.S. War Department. In an effort to reestablish soldiers into civilian life and keep the young men out of the “clutches” of bolshevism, the War Department created a massive campaign to convince American employers to “put fighting blood” in their businesses. The War Department's “Emergency Employment Committee for Soldiers, Sailors and Marines of the Council of National Defense” gathered together leading economists and well-educated officers to formulate inventive reemployment strategies, including specialized employment services, creative publicity campaigns, citation awards, and public works projects. In doing so, the War Department exerted unprecedented—and largely unexamined—control over veterans’ policy.

Keywords:   World War I, demobilization, War Department, reemployment of soldiers, Red Scare, bolshevism, publicity campaign, citation awards, public works, employment services

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