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bullet and bayonet, but the far more obscure though equally disabling effects of shell shock and nerve strain and gas poisoning. Trench warfare and exposure have led to much disablement from rheumatic, bronchial, and pulmonary complaints. Many men have broken down and been discharged during their period of training in this country, and though most of these doubtless may be expected to recover their full health, some at least must be placed among the disabled.
Of the men discharged through inability to become efficient soldiers, it may be said that probably most of them were never very efficient citizens. Without any definite disability, they are physically or mentally below par. They are among the great number of unskilled who have probably, as boys, gone into blind alley employment, and have reached manhood without training and without discipline. When trade is bad they are the unemployed, when trade is good they are casual labourers going from job to job, always the first to be put off and the last to be put on. We have been tempted to invent for them the term 'unemployable,' and to write them off as social failures for whom little or nothing can be done. In former times we have said 'if only these young 'men could be subjected to military training and discipline
for a time and taught a trade they might be saved.' We are meeting them now, after a few months' training, still inefficient and not likely to make good soldiers. But it is by no means certain that with longer training for civil life they might not be made useful citizens. They are not, strictly speaking, 'disabled,' since they were never able, but through their enlistment in the army we have the very opportunity of training them that we so much desired. I shall return to this later.
The following table shows the civil occupations of 250 discharged soldiers on the books of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Help Society in a big industrial city in the north of England. All these men were discharged as physically unfit or as inefficient. The table indicates roughly the proportion of unskilled to skilled workers. Labourers must in general be taken to mean men with no trade and accustomed to more or less casual employment. Labourers
84 Agriculture, including gar-
18 30 Clerks, agents, and travellers 12
Skilled workers, engineering Shop assistants trades
39 Skilled workers, building
23 Tailors and clothing trade
dentist, a postman, a
Most of these men became personally known to me.
A few of them were so disabled by wounds or disease that the question of employment did not arise. In the majority of cases the men had sufficient physical capacity for some form of useful employment, and of these it is safe to say that the greater number could have increased their capacity by training had greater facilities for training existed, and had the men themselves been willing. On the whole, however, the attempt to place the men to what seemed their own advantage was disappointing. There were two main causes of this.
The first was the uncertainty with regard to pensions. Men who had already been awarded a pension feared to take work lest they should lose it, or suffer a reduction to a lower rate on revision; men who had not received a pension were loth to relinquish their hope of getting one, and feared to weaken their claim by exhibiting earning capacity. The system of awarding pensions in accordance with an assumed loss of earning capacity was probably sufficient to account for this. It has recently been announced that this system is to be altered, and that in future pensions will be awarded irrespective of earning capacity. It is also to be hoped that a further alteration will remove the hiatus between the date of discharge and the pension award.
The second cause was the abnormal condition of the labour market referred to above. High wages could be earned in temporary employment, and the present gain was more acceptable than the offer of training for a more stable future.
As to these two main causes there seems to be no doubt whatever. Evidence from all over the country points the same way
But this evidence refers in the main to men who have received their discharge and have returned to their homes only to enter upon a period of uncertainty. The extreme pressure upon regimental paymasters resulted in frequent delay in settling a soldier's pay account. It was often not until weeks after discharge that a final settlement was made, and owing, doubtless, to some complexity in army accounts which baffled the civilian soldier, these final settlements were frequently disappointing—the expected arrears of pay dwindled to nothing, sometimes even to less than nothing, the account showing a debit against the soldier. There was often long delay before a man knew whether he was to get a pension or not, whether it would be permanent or temporary, and at what rate it would be assessed. In numbers of cases, also, the allowance for children was not at first included papers had to be returned, and further delay occurred. That these difficulties were due to unprecedented pressure was not fully appreciated by men who suffered considerable hardship from them. In places where local representative committees, voluntary societies, and later the local committees under the Statutory War Pensions Committee were efficiently and sympathetically worked, these hardships were to a great extent removed. But here again there was an element of uncertainty, and in some places efficient committees were not promptly formed.
That the Government and the country have intended from the first to deal generously with the disabled is certain, but there has been an unfortunate hesitancy as to means and methods which has obscured this intention, and the resultant feeling on the part of the men has increased the difficulty of carrying the intention into effect. It is, perhaps, a truism to say that you cannot help a man unless he is willing to second your efforts with his own; you certainly cannot train him if he is unwilling to learn, and he will not be willing unless you first secure his trust and confidence, and make it perfectly clear that a definite responsibility is recognised for his reinstatement in civil life and for the adequate maintenance of himself and his family until he is able to earn sufficient for the purpose himself.
II From the experience that has been gained during the past two years it is possible to suggest some general principles which should guide our attempt to fulfil this responsibility. In the first place, the conclusions arrived at by Sir George Murray's Committee in May 1915 must emphatically be endorsed: that the care of the sailors and soldiers disabled in the war is a duty which should be assumed by the State, and that this duty should include:
(a) restoration to health where practicable ; (b) the provision of training facilities (if the disabled man
desires to learn a new trade) ; (c) the finding of employment for him when he stands in
need of such assistance. With regard to (b), I should be inclined to leave out the condition in brackets. For many reasons, some of which I have tried to indicate, the psychology of the returned soldier requires the most careful and sympathetic consideration. The desire to learn is frequently absent, and the stimulation of this desire must be part of the man's treatment. It is not enough to put before him an opportunity and leave him to take it or not, and this perhaps applies specially in cases where training is most necessary.
The principle of State responsibility does not exclude voluntary effort. On the contrary, the magnificent work which has already been done by voluntary organisations, to some of which I shall refer in detail later, deserves every encouragement and must continue. The objection to what is sometimes contemptuously termed 'charity' is valid only when charity is spasmodic and inefficient. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is charity, but it is not alleged that either the heroic seamen who man the boats or the shipwrecked crews that are saved are humiliated by their connexion with a voluntary organisation. The disciplined mood or state of mind which is charity must indeed be the moving force of all our efforts to repair the broken lives of those who have given so much and fought so gallantly for us and for our country. But the State should assume the duty of coordinating these efforts, and including them all in one complete and comprehensive scheme. The second principle is that of continuity of treatment and control.
It would appear that in the men's own interests discharge from the forces should take place, not when they have been proved unfit for further military service, but when they have been made as fit as possible to resume civilian service. Some
measure of military discipline should accompany training, and should be regarded as a necessary part of the curative treatment.
I return here to a point made above. May we not take advantage of the opportunity which the patriotism of many and the conscription of some has given us, and attempt the training of the unable as well as of the disabled ? These historic days call for wide thinking and for great measures. The old social problems-products of past errors-will recur sooner or later, and among them the problem of the unemployed and the unemployable will vex and perplex us again with its sordid accompaniments of want and demoralisation and 'relief. Why not insist that every unskilled man about to be discharged as unfit' or 'inefficient should be retained for a further period of discipline and special training in accordance with such aptitude or inclination as he possesses ?
The third principle is that of recognition of individuality. Before a man can be re-started in life with any reasonable prospect of success, it is necessary to understand that he is not merely a discharged soldier but a complex of moods and characteristics which are as baffling and as contradictory as those of any other human being. (The greatest care should be taken, therefore, to select a trade or a kind of training which is likely to suit the man. This will not necessarily be the trade he will choose when his suggestions are first invited. Many a town-bred man will express a longing to go on the land without the least realisation that the loneliness,' and the early hours, and the weather will disillusion him in a month. And many another man, if he stands it himself, will find his home life ruined because his wife has the town temperament.
Into this question of selection there must come a careful consideration of a man's previous civil occupation and surroundings and family circumstances. A further question arises with regard to the locality in which a man is going to live. Though he may express no preference, the question is still important. The general rule should be undoubtedly to restart a man in the neighbourhood he knows. Local patriotism may be sub-conscious, but it is extraordinarily strong and it is extraordinarily local. Leeds and Bradford, for instance, are, geographically, very near together, but in another sense