Historian to discuss rehabilitation of disabled soldiers in American history Aug. 26 at Clarkson University
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 5:44 am

POTSDAM -- University of Pennsylvania historian Beth Linker will speak on “War's Waste: The Rehabilitation of Disabled Soldiers in American History” on Thursday, Aug. 26 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Barben Rooms of Clarkson University's Cheel Campus Center.

In her lecture, Linker will describe how the notion of rehabilitation eventually supplanted life-long pensions for veterans. She will also explain what that means in terms of the present.

An abstract of Linker's lecture reads, “With the number of casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mounting every day, Americans will be forced to come to terms with the tens of thousands of men and women permanently disabled from the conflicts for many years ahead.

“At the moment, it is almost universally accepted that the proper social and cultural response to the wounded is to encourage them to undertake extended hospital stays, undergo extensive physical rehabilitation, and (when needed) make use of state-of-the-art prostheses-all with an eye to facilitating the injured soldier's swift return to a 'normal' civilian life.

“While supervised long-term medical care is part-and-parcel of today's U.S. veteran welfare system, this was not always the case. Rather, the idea of rehabilitating maimed soldiers arose at a particular time in our nation's history, during the First World War.”

Linker teaches courses in the history of medicine and science at Penn's History and Sociology of Science Department. Her research interests include the social and cultural history of U.S. medicine in the 19th and 20th centuries, surgery, disability history, war studies, gender studies, as well as the history of bioethics and health care policy.

The lecture is free and open to the public, and will be interpreted for the deaf and hearing impaired.

For more information, contact Laura Ettinger at 268-3991.