(Belated) One Year Celebration: Our Top 5 Posts

With a busy end to the Fall semester followed by the holidays, we’ve been too tied up to recognize and celebrate our one year blog anniversary! But…we figure better late than never! While the idea for this blog began several years ago, we finally launched on Veteran’s Day in November 2016. We couldn’t be more grateful for the support and engagement from those who have visited the site and read our work. We love being able to share our work with a wider audience, bringing a critical and scholarly perspective to the dialogue about the military and veteran community. We already have some exciting guest posts lined up for 2018 and we look forward to another year of these important conversations.

Aside from our one-year blog-aversary, 2017 also ended with another celebration for Veteran Scholars: Sidra Montgomery officially became Dr. Sidra Montgomery! Successfully defending her dissertation in late October, Dr. Meredith Kleykamp hooded Dr. Montgomery at the December graduation ceremony at University of Maryland! It was a wonderful day and a celebratory moment with friends and family.

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In honor of our one-year anniversary, we want to highlight the Top 5 posts from our first year plus. While each of these posts tackles different substantive issues about military personnel, veterans, and their families, they are all connected by their ability to make us question our current assumptions: How can we best support military initiatives for civilian higher education in the officer corps? What does the other side of “thank you for your service” look like for wounded veterans? Is support for U.S. veterans overstated, and if so, by whom? How can we quantify potential hiring bias towards military spouses? What can social science tell us about the experiences of transgender servicemembers?

1. Military Graduate Students in Civilian Universities

In our most widely read post, Dr. Kleykamp outlines three particular challenges to the growing initiative for active-duty military officers pursuing advanced degrees at civilian universities. She discusses some of the ways this is problematic for civilian institutions of higher education, the military, and the individual students who pursue this path. Dr. Kleykamp ends with several points of advice for military individuals who are seeking a civilian graduate school experience.

2. Is There a Military Spouse Hiring Penalty?

With our first guest post we created quite the buzz! In this post, Brittany Dernberger, a Sociology PhD student at University of Maryland, reviewed her research that digs into military spouse employment outcomes. She uses factorial vignette studies to analyze the source of military spouses’ employment woes–is it their status as a tied-migrant, or is it a separate effect due to their status as a military spouse? She discusses two major findings and suggests what this may mean for military spouses and future research on this problem.

3. The Emotion Work of ‘Thank You for Your Service”

“Thank you for your service” has become a commonplace way the public expresses its gratitude for those who serve in the military. However, we rarely hear about the other side of that interaction: how veterans receive, handle, and process this gesture. In this post, Dr. Montgomery uses qualitative data from her dissertation research to show how post-9/11 wounded veterans navigate these interactions, arguing that it requires veterans to engage in “emotion work.” She provides insight in to how wounded veterans manage these interactions and why certain veterans are disproportionately affected by these gestures.

4. Who Supports Contemporary U.S Veterans? And Who’s Lying About It?

Dr. Kleykamp reviews her compelling research exploring public attitudes towards veterans, examining whether social desirability bias exists in the public’s stated support of veterans. They find that while the perception of veterans and their social support is viewed positively overall, socially desirability bias does exist among some surprising social groups. Dr. Kleykamp discusses the implications of her findings and what it means for the continuing support of veteran’s benefits (like healthcare) and other relevant policy issues.

5. Transgender Servicemembers: What We Know

In the summer of 2017, President Trump tweeted stating that he no longer supported the service of transgender individuals in the military in any capacity, going against existing Obama-era policies allowing the full service and accession of transgender individuals. In the wake of this breaking news we rounded up the most relevant reports, data, media narratives, and social science research to serve as a hub of information to inform the current conversation. While a lot has changed since this summer, the information contained in this post is still an important round-up of social science research on the experiences of transgender servicemembers and veterans.

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Thank You! To end this post, we’d like to say THANK YOU for supporting us, reading our work, and sharing our content with your friends, family, and colleagues. We have truly enjoyed creating this space, one where we can marry our scholarly work with the public conversation. We look forward to 2018 and hope to bring even more engaging posts and perspectives!

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