Jessica L. Adler

Associate Professor of History, Florida International University
Chapter Member: Florida SSN
Areas of Expertise:

Connect with Jessica

About Jessica

Adler researches and teaches about the history of health care, war and society, and incarceration in the modern United States. Her first book, Burdens of War: Creating the United States Veterans Health System, is about the World War I-era origins of the nation’s largest integrated health care system. She is currently working on projects examining the history of medical services in U.S. prisons, and late twentieth century transformations in the veterans’ health program.


In the News

"Inhumane System of Incarceration in U.S. Poses Special Danger to Women," Jessica L. Adler, Perspective, The Washington Post, June 16, 2021.
"If We Want to Stop Covid-19, We Can't Forget the Incarcerated," Jessica L. Adler, The Washington Post, March 31, 2020.
"Why Incarcerated People Must be Able to Speak Out about Abuse," Jessica L. Adler, The Washington Post, November 15, 2019.
"The Veterans Who Fought for — and Won — Government Health Care," Jessica L. Adler, Washington Post, November 11, 2017.
"The Grisly Work of VA Secretaries," Jessica L. Adler, The Hill, January 13, 2017.
"War Vets Find Solace in Stories of Others," Jessica L. Adler, Miami Herald, November 10, 2015.


"Help Without Hassles: Instituting Community-Based Care for U.S. Veterans after the War in Vietnam" Bulletin of History of Medicine 95, no. 4 (2021).

Explores conditions undergirding the establishment of the first Vet Centers and the program’s broader implications, as well as the general issue of why public health systems change over time. Highlights dynamics of how the VA gradually “deinstitutionalized” in the mid-twentieth century, it focuses on trends related to war and health, notions of federal responsibility, health activism and rights of people from marginalized groups, and connections between political ideology and medical diagnoses and treatment.

"Transitions in “Privatized” Prison Health Systems: Emergency Department Visits and Hospitalizations Among Incarcerated People in Florida, 2011–2018" (with Weiwei Chen and Timothy F. Page). American Journal of Public Health (2021).

Examines rates of emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations among incarcerated people in Florida during a period when health care management in the state’s prisons underwent transitions.

"Veterans, Like Other Working-and Middle-Class Americans, Increasingly Rely on Public Health Programs" American Journal of Public Health 108, no. 3 (2018): 298-299.

Highlights research showing that demands on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system have recently escalated, and that VA patients who are low-income, live in rural areas, and lack other sources of coverage get a relatively high percentage of their care from the VA. I propose that the nature and level of demands on the system be thoughtfully considered during policy debates about the VA's challenges.

Burdens of War: Creating the United States Veterans Health System (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017).

Discusses the origins and evolution of the U.S. veterans’ health system – now the nation’s largest integrated health care system. It traces changing expectations and perceptions of medical services and veterans’ benefits, and how politics and social circumstances shaped the structure, implementation, and experience of a federal health program. 

"'The Service I Rendered Was Just as True:' African American Soldiers and Veterans as Activist Patients" American Journal of Public Health 107, no. 5 (2017): 675-683.

Examine how African American soldiers and veterans experienced and shaped federally sponsored health care during and after World War I.