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Transitions in Veteran Care

 Medical Needs of the “Old Soldiers”

There has been a marked increase in the percentage of men treated in hospital and quarters during the past year over any previous year in the history of this branch, for the following reasons: The advancing age and increasing disabilities of the beneficiaries, the majority of whom have passed the meridian of life, their vitality low and their recuperative power gone; many of them are suffering from important structural changes of the vital organs, heart, brain, kidney, liver and pulmonary diseases. The only men in the Home who may be said to enjoy any reasonable degree of health are those who have lost a limb; some of these are hearty, robust men, yet there are but few inmates in this branch today who have not at some time during the past year applied to the surgeon for medical treatment.
Surgeon, Dr. A. J. Hare, Annual Report
to the Board of Managers, 1878

The number of soldiers there at present is about seven hundred. Most of these are able to enjoy the pleasures there offered, but there are also others who are still confined to their rooms and even those who scarcely ever have the privilege of beholding the light of day. They have been prostrate on the bed of sickness ever since the civil war, and received treatment at the hands of others. They are entirely helpless.
J. Blekkink, November 22, 1878, The Excelsiora
Hope College, Holland, Michigan.Reprinted with the permission
of the Joint Archives of Holland and Hope College

This Home is gradually and continually changing from the nature of an asylum to that of a hospital. Nearly all of its beneficiaries who come from the West, on their admission require immediate and prolonged medical care, having apparently sought the Home not because there was no labor for them to perform, but because they were no longer able to perform it; while its more robust inmates invariably come from the East, and represent that they have availed themselves of the benefits of the Home because they could find no remunerative labor by which to earn their livelihood. For these reasons the proportion of sick at this branch is much larger than at either of the other branches, which are filled from the stricken labor districts of the East; and the time has now come when greater and better hospital accomodations are imperatively demanded, in order that we may properly minister to the comforts and prolong the lives of those of our suffering comrades who seek the benefits promised to them in this Home.

Special Report made to the President of
the Board of Managers, February 25, 1879

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