Veterans' Policies, Veterans' Politics: New Perspectives on Veterans in the Modern United States

Veterans' Policies, Veterans' Politics: New Perspectives on Veterans in the Modern United States

Veterans' Policies, Veterans' Politics: New Perspectives on Veterans in the Modern United States

Veterans' Policies, Veterans' Politics: New Perspectives on Veterans in the Modern United States


"Provides a much-needed interdisciplinary approach to the study of the important intersection of veteran policies and political arguments that have helped to define the modern American state."--Robert Saxe, author of "Settling Down": World War II Veterans' Challenge to the Postwar Consensus

"An outstanding collection of essays that will engage anyone interested in the veteran experience in modern America. It should be read by political leaders and the general public who want to develop better ways to reintegrate veterans of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq back into American society."--G. Kurt Piehler, author of Remembering the War the American Way

The study of military veterans and politics has been a growing topic of interest, but to date most research on the topic has remained isolated in specific, unconnected fields of inquiry.

Veterans' Policies, Veterans' Politics is the first multidisciplinary, comprehensive examination of the American veteran experience. Stephen Ortiz has compiled some of the best work on the formation and impact of veterans' policies, the politics of veterans' issues, and veterans' political engagement over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the United States.

By examining the U.S. government's treatment of veterans vis-a-vis such topics as health care, disability, race, the GI Bill, and combat exposure, the contributors reveal how debates regarding veterans' policies inevitably turn into larger political battles over citizenship and the role of the federal government.

With the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq now the longest military operations in U.S. history and the numbers of veterans returning from overseas deployment higher than they've been in a generation, this is a timely and necessary book.


American political and social history and state development cannot be understood apart from the role, place, and significance of veterans and the policies created for them. Yet, until recently, barely a handful of scholarly studies examined the subject of veterans in politics, and most that did treated it apart from broader questions about American political development. This volume represents a dramatic leap forward, therefore, and not only in its ability to further our understanding of the vastly neglected topic of veterans. More importantly, the dynamic research of the new generation of historians and political scientists featured in this collection considers what veterans’ politics and policies illuminate about public life in the United States generally, about the contours and trajectories along which it has evolved, and the identities that have been fashioned and promoted in the process.

For decades, many scholars of American history operated on the assumption that European state development was normative; thus, they focused on what was missing in American politics by comparison. As a result, studies abound that highlight the weakness of organized labor and the late and incomplete development of European-style social welfare policies. As important as these topics are, they tell us more about what American history lacked than about what it possessed. By adding veterans to the analysis, a sparsely filled canvas suddenly becomes replete with color, highlighting political action and ideas that drove the policymaking process and informing about policies that shaped American civic identity and social life. This is illustrated by Theda Skocpol’s multiple-award-winning 1992 book, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States, which highlighted the development of Civil War veterans’ pensions as well as “maternalist” social policies. Now, two decades later, this volume continues in the same tradition, examining early and mid-twentieth century veterans’ politics and probing what they indicate about the larger political context of their time and about the contours along which American life proceeded.

From the Revolutionary War onward, both American political elites and ordinary people have acknowledged the citizen soldier as an integral, defining . . .

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