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AM8: Military Veterans Stories of Belonging, Transition, and Higher Education: Bridging the Civilian-Military Divide


This current Working Group focuses on sharing stories about belonging, transition, knowledge, diverse communities of service, and divergent perspectives to bridge the rising civilian-military divide in Post-9/11 U.S./American culture. We develop interdisciplinary, humanities-based dialogues to probe myths about war and military service in texts, public culture, and among individuals’ stories to enrich Central NY campuses with research, collaboration, and teaching about veterans on campus.

Open to New People

Active since: 2022

  • Syracuse University
  • Le Moyne College
  • Rochester Institute of Technology

Collaborative Goals

There is a robust tradition of modern literary writing and criticism of war, including Phil Klay’s fiction and nonfiction, as noted in our epigraph. But while many CNY Corridor campuses have worked hard to recruit military veterans, few academic spaces in the humanities exist for collaborators (faculty, students, and staff) to critically reflect upon and share divergent stories, experiences, and myths about war.

This Working Group proposes three goals:

  1. Create a space for interdisciplinary researchers to engage in dialogue—as a powerful humanities pedagogical method and a mode of communication across multiple perspectives—to read and share stories about Post-9/11 military service and veterans;
  2. Co-create a lasting public good in recorded and archived research-engaged community conversations about CNY veterans’ experiences in transitioning from war to higher education; and
  3. To reframe our myths about war and service by exploring diverse communities who serve—those from different geographical, cultural, religious, and professional backgrounds, including African and Native Americans veterans, women and immigrants, and veterans with disabilities (over 30% of the Post-9/11 cohort).

Group Organizers

Corri Zoli

Assistant Research Professor (PTI)/Faculty Affiliate, FNSSI/PARCC, Syracuse University

Jennifer Poggi

Assistant Professor, Photojournalism, Rochester Institute of Technology

Jennifer Reddy

Associate Director, Continuing Education; Veterans' Services Coordinator, Le Moyne College

Linda Euto

Associate Director, Research and Evaluation, Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), Syracuse University

Group Outcomes

These dialogue sessions became conversations that offered eye-opening perspectives about individual experiences of service, transition to civilian life, and realities of higher education as non-traditional students. Beyond the AM8 scheduled events, we have evidence that the dialogues spurred additional opportunities. In one example, about 18 undergraduate students in a photojournalism class were able to engage with ROTC, active duty military, and veteran students on campus. This engagement was meaningful for many, and for some a transformative connection that allowed them to directly confront misperceptions. Additionally, RIT opened its Office of Veteran Student Success in Fall 2022. The dialogues allowed leaders of this new office to connect directly with similar entities at other corridor institutions, as well as with participants who attended from organizations outside of the Central NY region.