Elena Friot, University of New Mexico
Sarah Myers, Saint Francis University
This roundtable advances the discussion started at the NEH institute and broadens the audience for Veterans Studies. Discussants will use their own areas of research and expertise as points of departure for starting a larger conversation about the value of treating veterans as a significant demographic deserving of historical enquiry.
Myers’ work on the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II challenges the gendered view of veteran as a male category and highlights the efforts of the WASP to earn not only veteran status, but full recognition of their military service to include inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery.
Darien’s research explores the ways veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom choose to “wear” their military service, and how these veterans’ military service affects their postwar identity.
Friot’s investigation of the memorial culture of Bataan Death March survivors in New Mexico explores how veterans challenged the victory culture associated with veterans of World War II and communicated alternate experiences of trauma and loss through their commemorative practices in the postwar era.
In their examination of groups of veterans, the discussants focus on issues of identity and representation. Deploying oral history, material and physical culture, and an array of documentary sources, Myers, Darien, and Friot demonstrate the usefulness of applying the analytical frameworks of history to the study of American veterans. This roundtable brings attention to the value of veterans as a subject of historical enquiry, and will engage participants in meaningful discussion of the potential for Veterans Studies as a field or subfield of the history discipline.