Sarah Handley-Cousins

Desertion, Martial Manhood, and Mental Illness: The Case of Sgt. Bergdahl

By Sarah Handley Cousins

Several months ago, when I submitted my first blog post for Nursing Clio, I included a short section about Civil War veterans who had lost their right to a pension because they had deserted the army during the war. But after discussing it with our editors, I decided to remove the section – after all, we thought, desertion isn’t really a current issue, right? I was more than a little surprised when, a few months later, the topic of military desertion became headline news.

Adventures in the Archives: Searching for the Past

by Sarah Handley-Cousins

For much of this past year, I’ve been entrenched in dissertation research. Despite the long hours hunched over dusty papers, trying to decipher century-old handwriting, generally while cold and hungry, I’m not complaining. I’m continually amazed that I’m getting the opportunity to do exactly what I’ve always wanted: the work of history. What I wasn’t prepared for, necessarily, was the emotional work that would come along with it.

Disability, Responsibility, and the Veteran Pension Paradox

By Guest Author

Recently, NPR reporter Quil Lawrence presented a radio series in which he profiled veterans who received other-than-honorable discharges from the military after violating rules of conduct, breaking the law, or getting in trouble with military authorities. Despite their service – including, for many, tours in active warzones – soldiers with so-called ‘bad paper’ are no longer considered veterans. As former Marine Michael Hartnett put it: “You might as well never even enlisted.”[1] Hartnett was given bad paper in 1993 when he began abusing drugs and alcohol – an attempt to self-medicate his undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans like Hartnett are no longer eligible to receive any of the veterans’ benefits they were promised when they enlisted.