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Connecting with Soldiers: A Civilian's Reflection

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In a cross memoir and essay format, I examine what connection barriers veterans face when communicating with civilians. I interviewed veterans after adapting an interview schedule and model release form.

In a cross memoir and essay format, I examine what connection barriers veterans face when communicating with civilians. I interviewed veterans after adapting an interview schedule and model release form. Additionally, I researched creative nonfiction, guided autobiography, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. I chose to focus mainly on soldiers returning from recent conflicts. Once I collected my interviews, I synthesized the stories I heard with personal memoir. The thesis focuses on three parts: coming home, communication barriers, and connection. Weaving in both my personal reflection and the voices of the soldiers I interviewed, I evaluate possible ways veterans and civilians fail to connect. I address the discrepancy between the apparent warm reception of soldiers and the feelings of disconnection soldiers express by noting the ways in which both the solider and the civilian struggle to communicate. Looking at reintegration struggles, I briefly note the transition difficulty post deployment soldiers face. From the responses I received, I reflect on how empty gestures, perceived ignorance, and an outsider effect contribute to communication barriers between soldiers and veterans. While I address how ignorance can be broken down into misunderstanding military jargon, detaching from war, hearing euphemisms, and having expectations, I also consider the ways in which situation and vagueness surrounding the war contribute to communication barriers surrounding perceived ignorance. From my reflection of communication barriers, I offer tools for soldiers and veterans making connections. I recommend that both soldiers and civilians stay informed about the military engagements as best they can, deconstruct expectations and generalizations, use empathy and active listening, and start being direct. Knowing the nuanced complexity of war and communication, I weave in my own reflections in contribution to the larger conversation.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05