Heather Ellis


Using newly available records from the Veterans Affairs Pension Files, doctors’ notes and Veterans’ Hospital records, this article explores how war neurosis was simultaneously a personal and public event. Veterans were required to describe symptoms that breached masculine ideals to demonstrate that their disability impacted their daily lives. Ex-servicemen were caught in a delicate balance between following the soldier ideal and describing their symptoms accurately. War neurosis not only impacted veterans in the private examining room of the pension administrator it also affected their ability to find and maintain employment and the lives of their family members. The more public their symptoms became, the more difficult it was to contain their diagnosis. Family members worked tirelessly to assist returned men with their symptoms and took on new responsibilities in the home. When these symptoms could not be managed in the home, families and veterans began to look for new options, such as permanent hospitalisation at Westminster Hospital in London, Ontario, an institution specifically created for veterans with mental illnesses.