Moore, Ellen. Grateful Nation: Student Veterans and the Rise of the Military Friendly Campus. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. Xiii + 199 pages. Paperback, 25.95
Grateful Nation is the published dissertation of Ellen Moore, who conducted the study of veteran scholars on America's campuses of higher learning during a period described by noted historian Andrew Bacevich as an "era of permanent, preemptive war" (p. 1). Moore approached the issue as a societal research project which included interviews of veterans and educators on several campuses. Due to the nature of the survey, the interviewees are identified by pseudonyms and the college campuses are also hidden in general names and descriptions.
Moore identifies three observations often found in literature on "war veterans": military enlistees are unprepared for college, veterans face enduring symptoms of trauma, and some campuses are unfriendly to the U.S. military. Using these observations, she "examines what happens when soldiers return home and enter college... and the ways that combat related physical and emotional trauma affect students' lives" (p. 13). Some of the key questions that underlay her work are: "How do civilians learn to become soldiers? What happens when soldiers leave the military, return to civilian life, and enroll in college as students" (p. 13).
Interestingly, Moore's first area of discussion was basic training--those first weeks where the military takes a group of young men and women, often fresh from high school, and transforms them into soldiers. (1) Basic training is painted as a process where civilian cultural habits and norms are replaced through domination and subordination. Moore later argues that the legacies of these practices are contested: some contend that the discipline of basic training and other follow-on military activities were a positive attribute to some veteran students' success; others, however, maintained that "being trained not to think" (p.47) contributed to their failure as students. In one example, Moore explains
car saw college as a mission to be accomplished. He likened his college classes to combat: '[College] is a constant struggle. Like when you're attacking the hill, you want to attack the hill going up, not backing down... I am a very determined person. I think that's what I got from the Marines'" (p. 47). This is in contrast to another veteran that was interviewed as she entered college for the second time. Evie enlisted in the...