Trends in Social Work, 1874-1956: A History Based on the Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work

By Frank J. Bruno | Go to book overview

25 · THE FIRST WORLD WAR

JUDGE JULIAN W. MACK drew up the Soldiers' and Sailors' Insurance Law of 1917, and thus made history in this controversial field. It covered both the care of the family of the enlisted man and his protection from handicaps in civil life that might arise because of his military service. The reason leading to its formulation was the desire to avert the scandal of war pensions that had followed every American war. It was felt that could be accomplished by making provision for the foreseeable economic handicaps from which an enlisted man suffers, such as loss of earning power during his period in service; reduction of earning power through injury; deprivement of the family's income through the man's death and forfeiture of eligibility for the enlisted man's life insurance. In the first place, the basic wage of the enlisted man was raised from $15 a month to $33. The act provided that on condition of his making an allotment to his family of not less than $15, the government would make an additional allowance to dependents of the serviceman varying in amount according to the degree of their relationship to him.

The injured serviceman, moreover, was furnished with medical care, vocational re-education and guidance, and a monetary compensation dependent upon the degree of his disability. In addition, the enlisted man was eligible to purchase term insurance at a very low cost; later this could be turned into regular life insurance issued by the government.

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