Injured soldiers often faced a perilous road to recovery on the warfront. Trench warfare, along with the development of improved technologies, drastically increased soldiers’ capability to inflict damage upon their enemies. The American Red Cross organized aid at home. Members knitted for soldiers and produced sewn bandages and pajamas.
At the onset of war, 562 Red Cross chapters existed with approximately 500,000 members. By the end of the war, the organization had over 3,700 chapters and 31,000,000 members. Of the 23,822 Red Cross nurses enrolled during the war, 19,931 were assigned to active duty with the military, U.S Public Health Service, and the Red Cross overseas. Some Red Cross nurses’ aides were also deployed on the home front to make up for the shortage due to the war.
The Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918 further complicated health matters. The outbreak reached enormous proportions, with some experts estimating that nearly 100 million people were killed by the disease. Hospitals became breeding grounds for disease. Spanish flu took a heavy toll, leaving the population even further decimated at the close of the war.