Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2014

Document Type


First Advisor

Jeffrey Brune

Second Advisor

William Ennis III


The end of the Civil War at 1865 came with a staggering cost of 625,000 lives and a sizable number of deafened veterans. The deafened veterans who left the war faced a unique dilemma with their disability, hearing loss. The path to proving their disability and obtaining benefits would prove arduous. Before the Civil War, disability was considered less. After the war wrought its damage, disability was seen as free-riders. The morphing of the disability stigma can be attributed to the reactions from the government and media. The well-intentioned federal government's policies and resources for disabled veterans in the years following the Civil War changed the perception of disability but also exacerbated the stigma for veterans who were disabled. People started to realize that disabled veterans were getting more aid than anyone else. The large numbers of disabled veterans frightened the public; the result was that fear of malingering spread. Disabled people came to be viewed as leeches who were dragging the country down. Complicating the situation, disability was tough to prove in the years after the Civil War due to the limited medical advances made in that time, which greatly increased the fear of malingering among the American public. All of those issues and perception contributed to the negative experiences of Civil War disabled veterans with hearing loss.



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