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Overview of Bridging the Divide
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President George Washington advised his newly established Congress shortly after the Revolutionary War that “a nation is judged by how well it treats its veterans.”.


The problem statement for this research study falls in the context of America's history of military service through conscription and the evolution to an all-volunteer force after 9/11, which has created a civilian-military divide many combat veterans are never able to come back across.

The 19-year-long War on Terror, in which less than 1% of the American population has shouldered the burden of combat, underscores the unique challenges faced by these veterans. The transition from a conscription-based system to an all-volunteer force has created a dynamic in which veterans perceive the sacrifices and experiences of a small portion of the population are not fully understood or appreciated by the broader civilian community.


The statistics on post-9/11 combat veteran suicide, homelessness, and unemployment, the highest among any American demographic, are stark reminders of the gap that exists in providing support and opportunities for those who served. Failing to address these issues not only affects individual veterans but also risks erasing the contributions and experiences of an entire generation of patriots.

My research study's purpose was to explore the perceptions, concerns, and fears driving the civilian-military divide after the first American conflict fought exclusively by an all-volunteer force. Extending my practice problem into a multiple-case study allowed me to narrate, listen, and explore amidst the central phenomenon, helping me better understand the nature of the civilian-military divide.

The following two research questions drove my study, which examined and explored the perceptions of combat veterans and non-veterans within the civilian-military divide.


The first research question specifically explored the perspective of the post-9/11 combat veteran community perceptions concerning combat-to-civilian reintegration, stigma toward the AVF, and culture.


The second research question specifically investigated the non-veteran perspectives on the same three issues. Both research questions surveyed the perceptions directed toward one another.

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