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Launching Men Anew

Creator: Charles Schwab (author)
Date: August 1918
Publication: Carry On: Magazine on the Reconstruction of Disabled Soldiers and Sailors
Source: American Printing House for the Blind, Inc., M. C. Migel Library
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 1  Figure 3

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The Seas of Opportunity Are Waiting for Specialized Brains


By Charles M. Schwab
Director General, Emergency Fleet Corporation


IF there is one thing today that American industry is searching for harder than anything else, it is brains. For thirty-three years my life has been spent among workmen in what has become the biggest branch of American industry, the steel business. But it doesn't make any difference what field of industry you consider, the test of success is the same.


In the present crisis, leaders of various businesses are engaged in work that is necessary to the winning of the war, and yet wherever in the country's service they happen to be placed, the basis of efficiency remains unchanged. It is brains -- specialized brains.


My present experience in the building of ships proves this daily. The man who can drive more rivets than his fellow succeeds not because he is physically stronger, but because he knows how to utilize his brains, and how to direct his energy.


There used to be a good deal of nonsensical talk in this country about men who miss fire because they lack genius. Genius is principally hard work: using normal brains to think beyond the manifest daily duty. It supplies one of the readiest alibis for the man who doesn't want to work a little harder than he is compelled to.


America is facing today a situation that demands the most thoughtful consideration of every man and woman. The drain on the man-power of the country is tremendous. Day by day, week by week, thousands of our men are leaving their industrial pursuits to take up arms against the common foe. The army and the navy are straining every effort to equip and to train these men for battle; the great industrial plants are humming day and night; the shipyards from coast to coast are quickening, by every human process, the building of ships to send our fighters and the necessary supplies to our Allies overseas.


Certainly it is not difficult to foresee how the exodus of several million able-bodied intelligent young men is going to affect American industry. The newspapers carry the message daily in their 'help wanted' columns. The supply is way behind the demand; but we must have fighters and war-workers, and the demand will continue greater as the war goes on.


This is why the subject of reconstruction of our disabled soldiers and sailors will touch every branch of American industry. The man who has offered his body in the defense of his country must not be allowed to return to us merely as a hero worthy of our sympathy. His physical handicap, whatever it may be, will not, except in rare instances, render him useless as an industrial factor; on the contrary, it will afford a greater opportunity than ever before to utilize his brains upon which he was not so dependent when he went away.


Reconstruction is a very live issue in America. Not an academic problem, but a practical one. For some time it has been gaining in importance as a part of the very fabric of industry, and because our big leaders are blessed with imagination, many of them have already foreseen the necessity of salvaging their man-power, of holding trained and loyal employees and not discarding them on account of a disability for which they are not responsible. I know of many instances where the process of retraining has returned able men to their jobs, and has not only saved the man for himself and his family, but increased the effectiveness of the plant in which he worked.


It is not possible to gauge accurately the number of fighting men who will return to us handicapped in body, but there will be many. Most of them will not have to learn new trades -- not more than ten per cent., I am told. But practically all of them can be put back into the industrial life of the country and must be. We need these men -- need them badly. Their physical courage proves their worth; and ought to dispel once and for all the notion that they crave pity.


I have been asked to suggest what seem to be the best fields of industry for our handicapped soldiers and sailors. It would be easier to say which field they cannot enter for I do not believe that any field is closed to them.


The usefulness of these men as fighters does not cease when they are unable to return to the trenches. The men who are building our ships constitute a great army -- they are industrial soldiers, every one of them. Most of those who come back from overseas can be made fit for industrial work of some character, whether it be mechanical or clerical. Each can take the place of an able-bodied man and release to the military forces another fighter, or can fill an important gap in the industrial scheme.


Never before has opportunity for advancement in industry been so great as it is today. The gates are opened wide for trained men; and the Government program of rehabilitation is a guarantee of what we may expect. Our disabled soldiers will be taught to use their brains, and brains are needed to carry out the plans of those who furnish capital.

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