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“We’re Home—Now What?” Exhibition at National WWI Museum & Memorial

By Mike Vietti
Director of Marketing, Communications and Guest Services, National World War I Museum and Memorial

From the earliest history of armed conflict soldiers have done their duty and returned to their homes and families. In the aftermath of World War I millions of servicemen and women came home from a war that was unprecedented in its impact on those who experienced it. For some who served, the war’s impact on their bodies and minds lasted a lifetime.

Were Home Now What exhibition 500Beyond the dockside homecomings and the main street parades, what was the returning veteran’s experience in being a “civvie” again? Were they able to make this transition smoothly? Return to work or school and get on with their former life? Or, did they find it difficult and require help?

We’re Home—Now What? examines the challenging transition for service personnel from War-time duty to civilian life through archival materials.

The U.S. government offered financial, vocational and social resources to the nearly 5 million servicemen and women who began demobilizing in 1919 after nearly half served overseas in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). Finding a job was the first thing on the minds of most veterans, so the government encouraged businesses to hire them.

An article in the April 4, 1919 issue of The Stars and Stripes describes the plan of the American Expeditionary Force’s Department of Citizenship to hold “forums” to address three subjects of importance for US Army officials: “Home,” “Health” and “The Workshop.”

Servicemen were given an opportunity to ask questions about when they could expect to be sent home and discharged, the prospects for finding a job, how to maintain good health and sanitary practices for themselves and their communities and how to be aware of the influence of socialism in the workplace.

Read the entire article on the National WWI Museum and Memorial web site.

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