CPS Unit Number 150-01
Unit ID: 1
Title: Livermore Veterans Hospital
Operating agency: MCC
Opened: 11 1945
Closed: 12 1946
CPS Unit No. 150, a Veterans Hospital unit located at Livermore Veterans Hospital in Livermore, California operated by Mennonite Central Committee, opened in November 1945 and closed in December 1946. The men worked in the wards with patients.
Livermore Veterans Hospital was located in Livermore, California, about forty miles from Oakland.
Over one hundred and thirty men selected from base camps transferred to the unit, some of whom were married.
Men in Mennonite camps and units, when entering CPS reported religious affiliation with various Mennonite denominational groupings.
On average they had completed 10.45 years of education when entering CPS, with fifteen percent having completed 1-3 years of college. Another seven percent had either graduated from college or completed some graduate education. Fifty-nine percent reported their occupations on entry into CPS as farming or other agriculture work. Twenty-three percent when entering CPS reported occupations in technical and professional work or business management, sales and public administration (Sibley and Jacob p. 171-72)
By June 1946, demobilization and transfers had reduced the unit to ninety and by November 1946, the unit numbered twenty.
The men worked in the wards with former soldiers suffering from tuberculosis.
According to Assistant Director Arthur Jost, the men, upon arrival, were received well by the soldier patients and attendants.
The unit leader reported that Christmas provided a unique experience for some of the men in the unit. “Working on the holiday, caroling on wards, trees and decorations furnished by the Legion, gifts from nurses and patients, and a huge institutionalized turkey, all went to make a relatively Merry Christmas." (in Gingerich p. 274)
Not all of the COs were well suited to the work or the setting in the veteran's hospital. After “the novelty of the work” wore off, some lost interest in the work and created problems for the unit leaders. When the initial four-month term was completed, those men transferred to other camps or units.
For more information on Mennonite mental hospital units, see Melvin Gingerich, Service for Peace: A History of Mennonite Civilian Public Service. Akron, PA: Mennonite Central Committee printed by Herald Press, Scottdale, PA 1949, Chapter XVI pp. 213-251.
For more information on women COs see Rachel Waltner Goossen, Women Against the Good War: Conscientious Objection and Gender on the American Home Front, 1941-47. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
See also Alex Sareyan, The Turning Point: How Persons of Conscience Brought About Major Change in the Care of America’s Mentally Ill. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1994.
See also Mulford Q. Sibley and Philip E. Jacob, Conscription of Conscience: The American State and the Conscientious Objector, 1940-47. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1952.
Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Camp periodicals database.
For more in depth treatment of mental health and training school units see Steven J. Taylor, Acts of Conscience: World War II, Mental Institutions, and Religious Objectors. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2009.