The seeds of modern disability and aging policy may be traced to the legacy of the American Civil War and its expansive disability pension scheme. Though not a rehabilitation, aging, or welfare scheme per se, the Civil War pension laws set out America's first large-scale policy of compensation for select men and worthy disabled, and led to a medical model of disability and America's first comprehensive federal retirement program. The post-Civil War shift toward the classification of disability laid the groundwork for subsequent federal policies. This chapter overviews the pension scheme, discusses our related investigation of veterans with disabilities as they aged, and examines the implications of this study for attitudes and policy toward persons with disabilities, with emphasis on the disabled as they age in workplaces, as today's veterans, and as global citizens.
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