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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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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022

The Long Journey Home

The Long Journey Home

African American World War I Veterans and Veterans’ Policies

(p.146) 6 The Long Journey Home
Veterans' Policies, Veterans' Politics

Jennifer D. Keene

University Press of Florida

After World War I, struggles over black veterans’ benefits served as a milestone in the broader civil rights movement, turning veterans’ personal readjustment to civilian life into a collective racial struggle for social justice. By forcing the federal government to offer (limited) protection of black veterans’ economic and medical rights, the struggle over veterans’ benefits served as the opening gambit of a civil rights strategy that would gain momentum throughout the twentieth century as the movement focused on enlisting the federal government as an ally, rather than viewing it as a foe, in dismantling Jim Crow. Every disabled black veteran who secured hospitalization or compensation was celebrated for achieving a minor victory in the overall campaign for equal rights, helping these men avoid feeling emasculated by their dependence on government aid. The civil rights movement thus inadvertently helped ensure that one of the major goals of federal veteran policy, the quick reabsorption of veterans into civilian and community life, was achieved.

Keywords:   African American veterans, World War I, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, disabled veterans, disability, rehabilitation, Tuskegee Veterans Hospital

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