From 'Broken Heroes' to Public Servants: Transforming Persistent Myths about Post-9/11 Veterans
Track: Research Track
The presentation uses cutting-edge social science research and data-driven analyses to debunk persistent, false myths about today's all-volunteer Gulf War and Post-9/11 veterans. Such myths include: (1.) the 1% rule, when veterans are closer to 10% of the total U.S. population; (2.) veterans as undereducated, when on average they outpace civilian counterparts; (3.) the military as demographically homogeneous when the military outpaces public institutions for diversity; (4.) veterans' professional skills as unmarketable or limited, when they have heightened high-tech, STEM, and professionalized training; and (5.) veterans as emotionally "broken," injured or intrinsically maladjusted, when in fact much military training achieves mental toughness and a proactive approach to PTS, among other mental health issues. Our research reveals a far more accurate, complex, nuanced and interesting picture of veterans' contribution to American culture, one that warrants retiring the "broken hero" myth and recognizing their ongoing commitment to public service.