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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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Rethinking the Bonus March

Rethinking the Bonus March

Federal Bonus Policy, Veteran Organizations, and the Origins of a Protest Movement

(p.173) 7 Rethinking the Bonus March
Veterans' Policies, Veterans' Politics

Stephen R. Ortiz

University Press of Florida

This chapter reexamines the Bonus March by exploring the organized efforts carried out by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for full and immediate payment of the bonus. In doing so, the essay argues that the supposedly unprompted Bonus Army that moved on Washington in the summer of 1932 was in actuality responding to organized political activism orchestrated by the VFW. The chapter also argues that, moreover, by viewing the growth of the VFW and the origins of the march in tandem, the symbiotic relationship between federal policy and voluntary associations can be examined. The federal policy that outlined the Bonus's deferred features inadvertently led to the rapid political mobilization by veterans. When the largest of the veteran organizations, the American Legion, failed to challenge federal policy, veterans first flowed into the VFW and then onto the streets of the capital. In short, the federal policies aimed at benefiting veterans inadvertently transformed them into activist citizens.

Keywords:   Bonus March, Bonus Army, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, federal veterans’ policy, political activism

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