Recruit, retain, separate, and reward : military pension policy and the American experience
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This report is part of a larger dissertation project and examines the American political development of the veterans' pension policy subsystem and its transformation into the military personnel policy subsystem. Despite extensive academic literature on the history of veterans' pensions, no scholar has pursued this research agenda through the lens of the dynamic policy subsystem. This report argues that from the nation's founding through World War II, military pension policy developed by way of an evolving policy subsystem with the help (and hindrance) of elite policy entrepreneurs, interest group lifecycles, bureaucratic consolidation, and legislative reorganization. Further, subsystem actors and institutions leveraged military pensions at various points in American history to recruit, retain, separate, and reward service members. Drawing from the historical record, original archival research, and previous scholarly works, this report makes four significant findings. First, a dynamic policy subsystem emerged in the wake of the Civil War and persisted well into the twentieth century. Second, powerful veterans' interest groups come about in the wake of war, thrive in the policymaking process for a period of time, and slowly fade away making room for new veterans' groups to influence policy. Third, bureaucratic consolidation of disparate governmental agencies handling veterans issues in the post-World War era facilitated bureaucratic innovation and autonomy, ushering in a professional workforce with streamlined processes to ensure veterans services were delivered in a more timely and effective manner. Finally, legislative reorganization in the wake of World War II effectively split veterans' pension policy and military personnel policy into two separate policy subsystems, minimizing the scope of conflict with regard to military personnel policy. This work reveals historical insights for contemporary defense and military policymaking in the post-Iraq/Afghan war era and opens the path for future research agendas exploring the military personnel policy subsystem.