After War: The Weight of Life at Walter Reed
Intimate Attachments and the Securing of Life
This chapter focuses on the relationships between injured soldiers and the family members—especially parents and wives—who live with them at Walter Reed during their rehabilitation. It argues that the relationship of husband and wife becomes essential to soldiers’ attempts to make a future life that will last beyond Walter Reed. The chapter looks at how this relationship is made part of practices of rehabilitation and daily living at Walter Reed and connects the importance of heteronormative domestic forms of life there to the broader social forces that make the relationship of husband and wife—the conjugal couple—essential to living an ordinary life in the contemporary United States. The chapter conceives of these broader social forces through the rubric of intimacy, understood as a simultaneously political and personal affective sphere that links questions of masculinity, sexuality, and embodied personhood.