The Politics of Veteran Benefits in the Twentieth Century: A Comparative History

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East Asian Studies




What happened to veterans of the nations involved in the world wars? How did they fare when they returned home and needed benefits? How were they recognized—or not—by their governments and fellow citizens? Where and under what circumstances did they obtain an elevated postwar status?

In this sophisticated comparative history of government policies regarding veterans, Martin Crotty, Neil J. Diamant, and Mark Edele examine veterans' struggles for entitlements and benefits in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Taiwan, the Soviet Union, China, Germany, and Australia after both global conflicts. They illuminate how veterans' success or failure in winning benefits were affected by a range of factors that shaped their ability to exert political influence. Some veterans' groups fought politicians for improvements to their postwar lives; this lobbying, the authors show, could set the foundation for beneficial veteran treatment regimes or weaken the political forces proposing unfavorable policies.

The authors highlight cases of veterans who secured (and in some cases failed to secure) benefits and status after wars both won and lost; within both democratic and authoritarian polities; under liberal, conservative, and even Leninist governments; after wars fought by volunteers or conscripts, at home or abroad, and for legitimate or subsequently discredited causes. Veterans who succeeded did so, for the most part, by forcing their agendas through lobbying, protesting, and mobilizing public support. The Politics of Veteran Benefits in the Twentieth Century provides a large-scale map for a research field with a future: comparative veteran studies.


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