“Thank a Veteran”: The Elevation and Instrumentation of U.S. Military Veterans
Lance Brendan Young
Western Illinois University-Quad Cities, US
About Lance Brendan
Lance Brendan Young, PhD, MBA, is an assistant professor of communication at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Veterans Affairs. His area of expertise is social support among rural veterans with substance use disorder and posttraumatic stress.
The adjustment and reintegration of military veterans following deployment has proven challenging since the wartime founding of the United States. Those challenges differ in their nature and intensity depending on social role. Veterans, family, support networks, and members of social institutions and society at large have very different experiences of, and perspectives on, deployment and its aftermath. This paper presents reasons the perspectives of veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are frequently unvoiced or unheard as they reintegrate following deployment. These muted voices permit others to consolidate and condense veterans’ perspectives and interests on their behalf. Buber’s I-it relationship serves as a framework for exploring this process of discursively rendering veterans as non-agentive political objects, as when recent opponents of Syrian immigration invoked neglect of veterans’ resources to argue against providing assistance to refugees. The paper concludes with recommendations to counter the monologic nature of these rhetorical efforts and to enhance dialog with veterans.