FOURTH VETERANS IN SOCIETY CONFERENCE
Veterans, globalized: veterans and their societies in international perspective.
26-28 March 2018
Roanoke, Virginia, USA
Abstracts of research
Representations and political engagements
Tuesday, 2:00-3:15. Monroe Room
“Don’t think we done everything!”: British Army veterans and the memory of the Second World War
University of Wolverhampton
This paper draws on oral history interviews with British Army veterans of the 1944-5 campaign from D-Day to VE day to explore the ways veterans relate their experiences in negotiation with discourses around veterancy and the popular memory of the Second World War. In the United Kingdom the war is remembered as a period of national fortitude in the face of adversity. The Army clearly enjoys a positive position in this “People’s War,” but deeper inspection reveals it is a paradoxical one: while the national myth stresses the important role of skilled combatants in defeating Nazi Germany, some of its core narratives blur the distinctions between civilian and military experiences and, in combination with modern discourses around veterancy and popular historical interpretations, these bring into question the uniqueness of the Army veterans' experience and their agency as war-winning fighters.
The American Legion in the global Cold War
The American Legion was at the heart of the Second Red Scare in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This was true both at home and abroad, as Legionnaires nurtured deep connections with the global anticommunist movement. For instance, the Legion raised funds to build churches in West Germany as part of the “moral rearmament” of Western Europe; carried out wide-ranging campaigns to donate toys to countries ravaged by the war; and sponsored several “pilgrimage” tours to Europe, where its members visited old battlegrounds and met with local right-wing veterans’ groups. Despite its impact, this aspect of the American Legion’s past has not received the attention it deserves from historians. This paper is the first to replace the group in the larger context of the global Cold War.
Mobilizing veterans against the war:
Comparing Vietnam and Iraq veterans’ anti-war movements
Darrell W. Driver
U.S. Army War College
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
The mobilization of veterans can be a powerful force for any political cause, especially when that cause is concerned with ending a war. Vietnam veterans’ voices were a prominent feature of the Vietnam antiwar movement, and, by 2007, anti-war Iraq veterans groups were playing an important role in the public debate on the merits of continued U.S. military involvement in Iraq. By comparison, however, these two episodes of veteran anti-war mobilization looked very different. Changes in the social, technological, and political environment had reshaped the prevailing political opportunity structure in important ways.
This paper examines those changes and the way in which select veterans organizations adapted to them. While some groups continued to trade in more conventional protest activities, other groups adopted a strategy more reminiscent of a think tank or lobbying firm than a social movement. This latter model may prove emblematic of the future of veteran political mobilization.
The influence of post-9/11 U.S. military policy: Perceptions on veteran and non-veteran advice to those considering military service
University of Arkansas
Faced with declining enlistment rates amidst counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, President George W. Bush reinstated the Stop-Loss program, suspending laws relating to military retirement and separation when deemed essential to U.S. national security. Drawing upon Gordon Allport’s contact hypothesis, this paper seeks to identify individual-level determinants that shape advice given to prospective military service-members. Utilizing Pew Research Center 2011 Veterans & Generational Change and Veterans Surveys, 3,856 respondents are categorized along two axes, respondent veteran/non-veteran status and close relative veteran/non-veteran status.
When considering respondents’ perceptions of post-9/11 U.S. military policy, self-reported quality of life, and demographic characteristics, this paper hypothesizes that 1) exposure to military culture tends to positively influence advice to prospective military service-members, and 2) greater exposure to negative combat experiences tends to negatively influence veterans’ advice to prospective military service-members. Implications may enhance perspectives on veteran identity, including societal support for veterans’ status and opportunities.