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veteran status

veteran status

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 10:40PM GMT
Classification: Query
My relative left PA on May 29, 1918 for Camp Humphrey, VA boot camp.
He never returned home.
On his death certificate I find he entered a mental institution sometime in 1919 and stayed there until his death some 50 years later.
His stepfather told siblings he died in the war. (I understand this explaination as the current culture towards mental illness for that era.) I also may assume this man did not return to his home and then go to the mental institution.
So my question is this: At what point in service does one become a veteran? Furthermore PTSD was not known as such in 1918-1919.
I plan to write to NARA and ask about records. However this is the "big fire" time period so I expect not to find any answers since the cemetery did not find any.
Any suggestions?

Re: veteran status

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 6:06PM GMT
Classification: Query
I think a soldier is classified as a veteran the day after his discharge. In world war I the term shell-shock was used to describe the condition World War II used the term battle fatigue and now it's PTSD. The soldier may well have returned home and lived with his family before it was decided he was suffering from severe shell-shock and sent to the institution.

The files lost in the fire at St Louis were the collection that was arranged by the name of the soldier. They can work to reconstruct the information from the name of the soldier and the details of the unit he served - that is - the division number, type of unit - infantry, engineers, artillery, machine gun, etc. The reconstruction is based upon the documents called Special Orders which each unit issued that detail the name of each soldier when he was assigned to some particular duty. There can be special order documents for each day of the year and some of them will have over 100 names so you can imagine what a time consuming task it is to find the paper for a particular name.

The US National Archives has records for the WWI divisions at their location in College Park, MD. At their web site select Search ARC - Archival Research Catalog

put 301641 in the search box - this is the ID number for the catalog description of "Records of Divisions". When you locate the description click on the tab "Archived Copies", then click on the "View Container List" which lists SOME specific boxes for each division. Note this box list is INCOMPLETE. There are twice as many boxes listed on the paper finding aid in the consultation room.

Re: veteran status

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 6:22PM GMT
Classification: Query
thank you so much. I will follow your suggestion today.
Good luck in your own search.

Re: veteran status

Posted: 28 Mar 2013 11:32PM GMT
Classification: Query
I have an in-law with a father served in WWI was in boot camp about same time and never left the states. The war was over Nov 11, 1918 with limited troops left till about 1920.

There is 3 book set complied in 1920 titled "Soldiers of the Great War" by W.M. Haulsee.
It lists soldiers that suffered causalities by state of residence and type of casualty...killed in action, died of disease, died of wounds, died of accident, or wounded in action. Also gives rank or position (private, sargent, wagooner etc., and "home town".

This is a free access website...

Ancestry also has it on their database also.

If his reason for being in an institution was from a war injury then he could be listed.

The only "Veteran Benefit" of WWI was a soldiers home "The National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers" and a Bond payable in 30 years.

The State Archives may have the older records of the institution if closed down. Does the death certificate have a box asking if a Veteran? Is he in the 1930 Federal census with box 30,(asking if a Veteran), filled in with "Yes" or "No"? Are you sure he was an "inmate" or maybe transitioned into a staff member at a later date. If he had problems when he got home after the war, in those days a family member could sign papers to have another family member committed. Maybe he never went back home because of that kind of treatment.
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