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“My Understanding … Has Literally Changed”: Addressing the Military-Civilian Gap with an Academic-Community Engagement Project

Author:

Ashly Smith

Sam Houston State University, US
About Ashly
Ashly Smith (Ph.D, Rhetoric and Composition) is an Assistant Professor of Business Communication at Sam Houston State University. Her recent interests include cultural representations of military personnel, military-civilian relations, and topics regarding military-affiliated individuals in the workplace and the classroom.
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Abstract

The Military-Civilian Gap, a label for the lack of civilian understanding about the military, is one of many concerns for those invested in supporting the military and the nation. While the factors contributing to the Military-Civilian Gap are many and are nuanced, academic-community engagement course projects provide one strategy for improving understanding between civilians and military-affiliated individuals and thus bridging the gap. This article analyzes final reflections of forty-four upper-level business communication students who completed an academic-community engagement project for which they developed a proposal for a recreational retreat for local military personnel and veterans. Analysis of the reflections shows that such service-learning projects increase civilian students' knowledge of the military and its members as well as civilian students' commitment to future engagement with military-affiliated individuals. In addition, student-veterans' reflections reveal that working with civilian students on projects that serve military-affiliated individuals improves the student-veterans' understanding of the military-civilian gap and potentially how to address it.
How to Cite: Smith, A., 2018. “My Understanding … Has Literally Changed”: Addressing the Military-Civilian Gap with an Academic-Community Engagement Project. Journal of Veterans Studies, 3(1), pp.1–17. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/jvs.1
Published on 17 Jan 2018.

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