Labors of Love: The Transformation of Care in the Non-Medical Attendant Program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center



In this paper, we explore the Non-Medical Attendant program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, which subsidizes the presence of war-injured soldiers’ family members as they live for months or even years at Walter Reed during treatment and rehabilitation. We elaborate the ambiguities of the program and draw on ethnographic research to demonstrate how the program’s vagaries combine with the context of an overburdened military medical system and the more familiar strains of family caregiving to place family members in a gray zone of care where the line between labors of love and institutionally compensated work is blurred.

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