Some of the men were disappointed by the work assigned to them and agitated for more meaningful jobs. One suggestion was that they work in mental hospitals, which were having trouble finding able-bodied orderlies. The War Department at first resisted, because they wanted the pacifists kept segregated in their rural camps so their ideas would not spread. They eventually gave in, though, and CPS men worked in mental hospitals across the country. Some became reformers, and four who worked in Philadelphia founded a journal for mental health workers. The administrator of the program was Army general Lewis B. Hershey, who once called the CPS
an experiment to find out whether our democracy is big enough to preserve minority rights in a time of national emergency.We did. During World War I, conscientious objectors were imprisoned, or made to do latrine duty at military camps where they were mocked by the soldiers. (The idea was that the abuse would cause them to man up and enlist for combat. It didn't work.) The Justice Department even tried to indict the leaders of the Mennonite Church under the Espionage Act for trying to sabotage the war effort. But in World War II the Roosevelt administration and some Congressional leaders were persuaded that keeping conscientious objectors far from the war effort was the wisest course, so they did the right thing for less than perfect reasons.
I suppose a sufficient mass of pacifists would be a real problem for a country but a few thousand in a nation of millions are no threat, and there is no reason why we shouldn't leave them alone.