introduction
By late October 2007 Jake had been at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
for about a year. He was among a slowly changing roster of two dozen se-
verely injured U.S. soldiers and their family members all living at the non-
profit Fisher House, a privately managed communal house for injured or
ill soldiers and their families within the gates of Walter Reed.1 Though the
Fisher Houses were originally built with previous generations’ slowly aging
veterans in mind, they were now almost entirely devoted to young soldiers
like Jake who had been suddenly, dramatically, and grievously wounded
in Iraq and Afghanistan and to the family members tensely pulled to their
sides. Jake was one of hundreds of other injured soldiers living at Walter
Reed, most of them in the on-post Mologne House hotel, whose accom-
modations were much less well suited to the ongoing projects of remaking
domestic life under way at Walter Reed. The small proportion of injured
soldiers unattended by family members lived in the barracks of Abrams
Hall. Their kin had remained in or returned to their various domestic else-
wheres, and regardless of the attachments or fraternities in which these
soldiers’ lives might be enmeshed, at Walter Reed such soldiers were col-
lectively referred to as “single.”2
But Jake’s situation was by far the more
common. Like Jake, most soldiers at Walter Reed were attended by a brother
or a wife, a girlfriend or a parent, some intimate relation whose sustained
presence enervated the institutional space of Walter Reed with the nervous
conditions of domestic dramas. All of this marked a departure from earlier
eras, when it was only the likelihood of an injured soldier’s death that
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