Providing for the Casualties of War

Providing for the Casualties of War

Providing for the Casualties of War

Providing for the Casualties of War


Looks at the history of, and lessons learned from, the care of war casualties, veterans, and their families from ancient times through the aftermath of WWII, including the psychological injuries (invisible wounds of war).


[In war], the latest refinements of science are linked with the cruelties of the Stone

Sir Winston Churchill
Speech, London
March 26, 1942

The above quote applies especially to military medicine: Weaponry has become increasingly lethal, but medical advances are making horrific wounds survivable. It was my job as the Surgeon General of the Army to build a robust medical presence on the battlefield and a sophisticated system of recovery care and rehabilitation for our wounded soldiers. In Providing for the Casualties of War, Dr. Bernard Rostker sets my task against the backdrop of history.

Histories of military medicine usually concentrate on battlefield care and transportation, occasionally on recovery in hospital systems, and rarely on rehabilitation. Efforts to consider all aspects of care, from the time of wounding through ongoing rehabilitation and all the systems supporting this spectrum, are rare indeed, and I am not aware that it has ever been done with the detail Dr. Rostker has provided.

Beginning with a history of casualty care from ancient to modern times, this volume describes the progression from early primitive care, to more “modern” practices (e.g., bleeding, cauterization) that can best be described as well intended, and to the rapid improvements of the 20th century. The recognition that there is need for additional care, including rehabilitation, is recounted in this volume. Rostker clearly shows the progression of care from the battlefield to follow-up care through the ages, especially how France and Great Britain laid the groundwork for the establishment and evolution of the American systems of care we enjoy today. The interplay of military care with that of care for the disabled and veterans is chronicled, along with the establishment of benefit programs. Of particular note is the growing recognition of mental health problems and the difficulty of recognizing, diagnosing, and treating these conditions.

This is a unique, comprehensive, and well-written history of the scope of military medicine, from the time of wounding to follow-up care as a veteran. It covers ancient . . .

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