The following article argues that young physicians working as army doctors played an important role in the development of public health and social policy ideas in Chile, proposing a number of social policy measures. Their experience in the armed forces provided them with deep insights into the health conditions and education of the less privileged Chileans, some of which raised serious concerns. The War of the Pacific served to heighten the doctor’s awareness that inertia on part of the Chilean state in all matters concerning health and education set the Chilean army, and by extension the country, at a great disadvantage. Here, the examples of Imperial Germany as well as other European countries were also important. Finally, the article revises some of the arguments used in Chile in favor of universal military service that were closely connected to social policy issues.
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