From "The Veteran Problem" to people with problems: The American WWII Veteran

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This paper is part of the research that I am doing for my dissertation. In my dissertation, I investigate the ways American veterans were portrayed as social problems in U.S. policy discourse near the end of WWII (1943-1946). Willard Waller, a WWI veteran and professor of sociology at Columbia University, outlined how he understood veterans to be a social problem in The Veteran Comes Back, and the National Broadcast Company (NBC) gave Waller’s perspective a national audience when his book was dramatized for a radio show in 1944. Waller’s theory of “The Veteran Problem” suggests that veterans return from military service as people with problems and eventually become threats to political and social stability if they are not properly reintegrated into civilian society. This study considers the extent to which other people who participated in WWII veteran policy discourse shared or deviated from a Waller-like theory. While my dissertation’s analysis will account for U.S. policy discourse in newspapers, academic papers, and Congressional hearings, this paper only discusses the preliminary findings from my analysis of academic papers. I also explain the next steps I will take in this project.



Veterans, World War II