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The Story Continues

Conscientious objector accompanies mental patients on their walk on the grounds at Cleveland State Hospital. Learn more about the work of conscientious objectors in mental hospitals in the Mental Health Legacy materials.

Credit: Mennonite Central Committee Photo Archive.

The Mental Health Legacy

Nearly 3300 conscientious objectors served in state mental hospitals during their CPS experience. Many, profoundly troubled by patient treatment and hospital conditions, sought ways to reach patients as human beings and confront horrific hospital conditions. Their efforts contributed to change in patient treatment, public attitudes toward mental illness, public policy for state hospitals, and transformation in care for the mentally ill. To learn more, see the following:


Service for Peace in the Post-WWII Era

Ted Studebaker with villagers in field near Di Linh, Vietnam. Studebaker was a worker with Vietnam Christian Service and member of the Church of the Brethren until his death in 1971. Learn about his life and Vietnam experiences in the Vietnam materials. Photo Credit: Brethren Historical Library and Archives (1969-1971)

In addition to providing the first government-approved alternative to military service for conscientious objectors in the United States, CPS also served as a forerunner for new forms of service which emerged to address social issues, structures of violence, and the aftermath of war. Unlike their WWII counterparts who often worked in the obscurity of forest camps, many conscientious objectors after WWII were inspired to work directly in the contexts of war and human suffering. This freedom only served to heighten the questions of allegiance, complicity, and identity that were present in the CPS model. To learn more, see the following examples:


Still Under Construction

  • Peace Tax fund and war tax resistance
  • Peacemaking through nonviolent direct action


War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today.

President John F. Kennedy