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Courtesy listing.  Veterans in Society conferences rotate among host institutions across North America under the auspices of the Veterans Studies Association. Between ViS conferences, we encourage you to contribute your ideas about research on veterans in society through the Veterans Studies Conference Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.







Conference dates:

   14-15 March 2024 (Thursday-Friday)



  University Conference Center

  1705 College St.

  University of South Carolina

  Columbia, SC




Tidal Changes in the 'Sea of Goodwill'

Conference scope

The Veterans Studies Association believes that the category, veteran, must be approached critically, inclusively, and comparatively. We support theoretical, humanistic, and empirical studies covering military and former military personnel and their families of all identities, from the time they contemplate living outside the military, across their lifespans as they navigate civilian norms and lifeways.

We especially encourage scholarship that highlights the experiences of marginalized people, including women, LGBTQ+ people, members of racial/ethnic/religious minority groups, refugees and immigrants, whose “veteran-ness” has been contested or obscured by dominant narratives of who "counts" as a veteran.

We also invite work that uses the category of veteran as a way of interrogating the experiences of warriors-come-home across temporal, geographical, and cultural boundaries, including those outside the modern, Western system of nation-states and permanent, state-sponsored military establishments.

Thursday, March 14, 2024


2–4 pm Works in Progress Workshop     (invite only)                        USC Press Conf. Room

Speakers: John Armenta, Palomar College; Benjamin Effinger, University of La Verne; Marsha Martin, You are Still a Veteran; & Sarah Minnis, Western Carolina University.

Kindred Scholars: Kathryn Broyles, American Military University; Benjamin Schrader, Colorado State University; Travis Martin, Independent Scholar; & Mariana Grohowski, University of California, Irvine.


The Works-in-Progress workshop is for sharing/refining early-stage research and/or engagement projects with kindred scholars and potential collaborators. Four speakers will present ideas to four kindred scholars. The workshop is closed to other conference attendees to ensure speakers/presenters get full attention to share and workshop their ideas and to encourage collaboration, project building, and action plans for execution.


4–5 pm Registration & Welcome Reception                                                  Barringer Gardens

Talk with exhibitors and enjoy hors d'oeuvres


5–6 pm Welcome & Keynote Speaker                                                          Barringer Gardens

Major General (Ret) Todd McCaffrey |"The Thriving Veterans Among Us—Evolving the Narrative"


6–7 pm Group Tour                                                                                                         Anne Frank Center


7–9 pm New Attendee Meetup                                                                                                     TBD

Friday, March 15, 2024

6:30 am-7:15 a.m Yoga with Colleen Dibble | Location: Horseshoe


8-8:30 am breakfast (provided), registration, visit exhibitors  | University Conference Center


8:45-8:55 am Welcome

9-10 am concurrent sessions 

Note: V = virtual presenter


A1: Navigating the Campus Community                                                        Summit East

Moderator:  Mariana Grohowski, University of California, Irvine

  • V “Chameleons and Kungas: The Perceptions and Experiences of Military Veteran Faculty Members in Their Transition to Academic Service” | Jason Harris, US Marine Corps & University of Southern California

  • “Military-inclusivity and the Sea of Goodwill in Higher Education: Strides and Predicaments” | Monika Sziron,

  • “Combating Changing Tides by Building a Bridge: A Proposal for a New Framework Focused on Student Veteran Success” | Hillary Gallego,


How does the culture of higher education foster inclusivity for student veterans and veteran faculty and staff within the larger campus community? This panel investigates and critiques efforts within higher education to include veteran and military-spouse faculty, staff, and students by examining veteran campus experiences through critical lenses of pedagogical practice, organizational culture, and military/civilian cultural competencies.


A2: Adapting to Shifting Tides: The Veteran Peoplehood Model and Collaborative Education            


Moderator:  Travis Martin, Independent Scholar

  • “Beyond Stereotypes: Harnessing the Power of the Veteran Peoplehood Model” | Eric Hannel,

  • “Pioneering Education: Shaping Veteran Studies Degree Programs” | Karen Hannel,

  • “Bridging the Gap” | Frank Hernandez Jr.,


Centering on the Veteran Peoplehood Model, this panel presents both practical cases and theoretical essentials for developing academic coursework and degree plans that teach a holistic vision of veteran identity, experience, and representation.


A3: Assessing Representation and Transition                                              Summit West

Moderator: Carrie Carter, North Carolina State University

  • “Veteran-Transition Assessment Tool Pilot” | Dan Perkins,

  • “What Happens When the Sea of Goodwill Recedes?: A Content Analysis of College Websites Military-Friendliness” | Kurtis Watkins,
    & Latosha Henderson,

  • “Pop Culture and The Military: A Test for Accuracy in Media Representation” |
    Samuel Lewis,


Media and mediatization are integral to communicating to veterans and forming perceptions about veterans, their triumphs, and their struggles. This panel examines how institutions market to and/or construct narratives about veterans and provides empirical tools for assessing veteran media representation versus the reality of veteran lived experience.


10:00-10:10 break

10:10-11:10 concurrent sessions


B1: Memory and Memorialization                                                                                         Eastview

Moderator Benjamin Schrader, Colorado State University 

  • “How a drawing on a napkin transformed into a 14-foot granite and steel monument to the Post 9/11 Veteran” | Sharon Young,

  • “Navigating the Challenges of Memorializing the Global War on Terrorism: Lessons from Other National Memorials” | Jim Craig,

  • “Lest We Forget: U.S. Infantry Division Associations as Custodians of Memory, Commemoration, and History, 1945-1950” | Erik Carlson,

Memory and memorialization are critical to the preservation of military and veteran histories. However, establishing channels for doing such work does not always come easily. This panel will survey the routes, methods, and challenges associated with establishing social memories of veteran, military, and/or war histories.


B2H: Veterans' History as a Social Construct                                                Summit East

Moderator: Mariana Grohowski, University of California, Irvine


  • V “Defining the Undefined Ones: The Case of Lithuanian Afghanistan War (1979-1989) Veterans”| Gabija Strumylaitė, Vilnius University

  • “The American Warrior and the Social Creation of History” | Jeb Wyman,

  • “​​Subtleties of Trauma Spectrum Disorders - Reintegrating America's Returning Warriors: A Cultural ‘Bootcamp’" | Jeffrey Yarvis,


Social opinion surrounding wars and geopolitical conflicts often impacts how veterans or active service members of those conflicts are seen by the public. This panel examines how positive/negative associations with conflicts impact how veterans are seen and supported upon homecoming and the ways that cultural competencies can be bridged beyond constructed versions of veterans and their respective eras.


B3: Homecoming: A Historical View                                                                         Summit West

Moderator: Bruce Pencek, Virginia Tech

  • “Representations of The Return of Servicemen/Women to Society: Shaping U.S. Public Opinion Over Time” | Jim Dubinsky,

  • “A Homecoming Never Seen: How Racism and Public Opinion Impacted the Homecoming Experiences of Black Vietnam Veterans” | Eric Hodges,

  • “Discovering a Vocabulary Exists: The Power of Reading to Guide Veterans Home" |
    Hilary Lithgow,


The experience of returning home and setting into the veteran identity has not been a neutral process throughout time. Myth, politics, and civic connectedness all shape how veterans experience their returns. This panel addresses historical aspects that have contributed to easing or inhibiting veteran homecoming experiences and their lasting impacts.


11:10-11:20 Break


11:20-12:20 Keynote


1230:1:30 Lunch (provided)

1:30-2:30 concurrent sessions


C1: Troubled Waters in the Sea of Goodwill: Discord in Policies and Practices                                                                                                                                                                    Summit East

Moderator Eric Hodges, Longwood University

  • “From Rhetoric to Reality: Veterans’ Service and Citizenship and their Impact on Immigration Policy” | Micah Wright, ,

  • “Debating Authenticity and Allyship: The Military Sexual Trauma Movement and #IamVanessaGuillen” | Corrine Hinton,

  • “Lost in a Sea of Terms: Moral Injury and Civilian Appropriation of Language and Diagnosis” Kathryn Broyles,  


In this session, panelists will explore the (mis)understanding of military service and its impact on the military-civilian divide. Language's role as a bridge or barrier in communication among military-affiliated populations and civilians will be examined, highlighting rhetorical discord and its implications for policies and practices. Topics encompass debates on veterans' citizenship, discourse on Military Sexual Trauma, and civilian appropriations of moral injury.


C2: Policy, Problems & Perceptions                                                                                  Eastview

Moderator: Jim Craig, University of Missouri—St. Louis

  • “Why can’t we stop sexual assault in the military? The evolution of policy in the military around sexual assault” | Col. Wanda Wright, Ret.,  

  • “The Veteran Image, the Second Social Contract, and the Military Lifecycle” |
    Rebecca Burgess,

  • “Stolen Valor: Pollution in the “Sea of Goodwill”? | John Armenta,


Speakers address critical issues within the military and veteran community highlighting topics such as sexual assault prevention, the holistic approach to the military lifecycle, and the troubling phenomenon of "Stolen Valor." These presentations offer a comprehensive understanding of policies, problems, and perceptions crucial for effectively navigating the multifaceted military and veteran landscape.


C3: [Assessing] Veteran Well-being                                                                              Summit West

Moderator: Sharon Young, Western Connecticut State University

  • “Economically Empowering Justice-Involved Veterans: Insights from Integrated Service-Delivery Financial Coaching in Veterans’ Treatment Courts” | Ann James,

  • “Applying a Socio-Ecological Framework to Understand Military Spouse Unemployment” |
    Carrie Carter, &
    Shelley Strong,  

  • “Navigating the Nexus: Bridging Public Policy and Legislation for Veterans' Well-being” |
    Karla Seijas,


By exploring well-being writ large, speakers will offer insights into the multifaceted challenges veterans and their families face as they transition from service to civilian life. Speakers share methods for bolstering support for justice-involved veterans and shed light on issues such as military spouse unemployment. Furthermore, discussions will address the intricate dynamics of public policy and legislation, aiming to enhance the overall well-being of veterans.


2:30-2:40 break

2:40-3:40 Concurrent sessions


D1: Veteran Visibility and Representation                                                                Eastview

Moderator: John Armenta, Palomar College

  • “An Emic Conceptualization of Veteran: ‘You're Either One of Two Things—You're Captain America or You're Broken’” | Steven Wahle,  

  • “Veterans in the Collective Consciousness: Iterations of the Veteran Body” |
    John Bechtold,  

  • “Racing for those who made the ultimate sacrifice”: Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, NASCAR Nation, and “Thank you for your service” | Jamie Boyle,


This session offers an in-depth exploration of veteran identity and representation. Through scholarly analysis and empirical evidence, attendees will gain insights into the complexities of veteran experiences. Topics include insider perspectives, cultural valuation, and critical examination of media portrayals. Attendees can expect a robust, yet scholarly discussion aimed at fostering a deeper understanding of veteran identity and its implications for society.


D2: Healing the Veteran                                                                                                               Summit East

Moderator: Russel Fail, Purdue University Global

  • “Operation Nightingale: Digging Band of Brothers” | Sarah E. S. Carter,

  • “Operation Surf: Changing Veterans’ Lives One Wave at a Time” |
    Colleen Dibble,

  • “Value Add and Force Multiply: Working with Veterans in Archaeology” |
    Jennifer McKinnon,


Speakers showcase distinct veteran rehabilitation initiatives: archaeological fieldwork and ocean therapy. Through scholarly analysis and empirical evidence, attendees will gain insights into the practical transfer of skills, therapeutic effects, and societal implications of these initiatives. Additionally, the session aims to foster dialogue among scholars and practitioners to further refine and expand upon the understanding of veteran rehabilitation strategies within academic and professional communities.



D3: Connecting Through Storytelling Roundtable                                 Summit West

Moderator Samuel Lewis, Eastern Kentucky University

Qwynn Galloway-Salazar, In Their Honor & PsychArmor Institute; Jason Higgins, Virginia Tech;
Luke McClees Jr., Independent Scholar; & Samuel Lewis, Eastern Kentucky University


This roundtable brings together seasoned podcasters, authors, and scholars to dissect the profound impact of storytelling on our understanding of veteran and military life experiences. From the nuanced depiction of individual narratives to the broader implications for collective memory, this session offers an academic inquiry into storytelling's ability to cultivate empathy, bridge divides, and shape societal narratives surrounding service.


3:40-3:50 break

3:50-4:50 concurrent sessions


E1: Storytelling for Veteran Experience and Identity                       Summit West

Moderator: Michael Visconage, US Department of Veteran Affairs

  • “The Artifacts of (Military) Veteran Experience: Emerging Approaches to Data Collection in Qualitative Veteran Studies Research” | BriGette McCoy,

  • “The Ongoing Fight for Freedom” | Sonny Kelly,

  • “‘An Unending Circle of Pain’: The Sound of Trauma in Company K and Redeployment” |
    Sarah Eilefson,


Drawing upon their storytelling experiences, panelists will share their insights on interconnected themes related to war, military service, trauma, identity, and resilience, from intergenerational trauma depicted in literary works to the usage of artifacts in data collection and its impact on qualitative methodology to Black North Carolinians' pivotal roles in shaping military history. Panelists will provide a vital lens for those seeking to investigate further the complexities of military service and the diverse identities of those who have served.


E2H: Synthesizing Veteran Experience                                                   Summit East

Moderator Mariana Grohowski, University of California Irvine

  • “When you can’t (say) ‘compare’: A Discussion of Ethnographic Methodologies Tracing Veteran Transnational Relations” | Charles Warner,

  • “Reimagining America’s Civil Religion: Veterans, Race, and Patriotism” | Bryon Garner,

  • “Seeking Recognition: Veteran Biosolidarity of Military Experiences and Agent Orange Chemical Effects” | Abigail Buchanan,


Presenters will synthesize diverse perspectives on the veteran experience in this engaging hybrid panel presentation. From navigating transnational relations to reimagining patriotism and challenging institutional narratives, our presenters offer insightful reflections on the complexities of veteran identity. Additionally, through ethnographic lenses, they explore the interconnectedness of veteran lives, highlighting the transformative power of storytelling and collective action.


E3: Veterans Narratives through the Archive                                                           Eastview

Moderator Kathryn Broyles, American Military University 

  • “In Another Country, At Another Time. Frederick John White (1814-1854): Lieutenant in the Royal Marines, Prisoner of War of the Carlists”| Hendrika Vande Kemp,

  • “Private Hinton’s War 1918-1919”Andrew English,

  • “Memories of World War One: Different Effects of American Help in France as Seen Through the Work of Married Couple Anna Coleman Ladd and Maynard Ladd” |
    Kelly Lankford,


Presenters draw from historical wartime events dating from the 1800s to World War I, highlight archival research methods, and provide historical analysis, showcasing their bodies of work while offering valuable insights into wartime and post-war experiences.


4:50-5:00 pm Closing Remarks and Farewells

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