Hitting the Road to Bridge the Divide


We’re starting a conversation about what the military-civilian divide looks like in America and how to close it—and you’re invited to join in

Welcome to the new Veterans Coming Home. We’re excited to jump into the next phase of this innovative public media project where we’ll explore the lives of post-9/11 veterans, the divide between them and their communities, and the stereotypes that veterans and civilians hold about each other. Why does this divide exist? How does it affect communities across the country? And why does it matter?

To kick things off, today a 5-person team of veteran and civilian mediamakers is hitting the road on a national tour, starting in Norfolk, Virginia. They’ll work with 14 local public media stations to reveal untold stories of veterans returning home, of what it means to serve your community and country, and of what it means to be a citizen. You can follow their journey—and take part in the conversation—using the hashtag #VetsComingHome on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

So what is “the divide”?

Veterans have often felt isolated when coming back home, but now more than ever, there’s a real divide between post-9/11 veterans and the communities they’re returning to.

In World War II, 50% of eligible men served in the armed forces. But in today’s all-volunteer force, less than 1% of eligible Americans serve in the military. A majority of those who volunteer to serve come from military families, and about half of active-duty service members are concentrated in the military communities of just five states.

As a result, those who serve in the military are culturally and geographically isolated from those who don’t, leaving veterans struggling to fit into a society where many feel their experiences aren’t truly understood or appreciated.

So much of what we hear about veterans are stories that fit into neat boxes—whether it’s about heroism and courage on the one hand, or about struggle and PTSD on the other. But there’s more to the story here. We’re are going to dig deeper and tell stories you haven’t heard—like how veterans in Virginia are using standup comedy to bridge the divide, or how veterans in Wisconsin are running an organic farm and creating a peaceful place for veterans to return home. We’ll go beyond the flags and parades to get at some of the deeper questions of what brings us together as citizens.

I’m not a veteran—why does this matter to me?

Even if you’re not a veteran, you may have more in common with veterans than you think. We’ll be exploring stories not only about those who’ve served in the military, but about what it means to serve your community and country, and what it means to be a citizen.

Only 5% of Americans are directly related to someone who serves in the armed forces, so it isn’t unusual for a civilian to not know any veterans. And many more might not want to confront the experiences veterans have faced, or don’t know where to begin the conversation.

Yet this divide matters to all of us because of the way we’re cut off from the unique set of contributions that veterans can bring to their communities. By connecting through conversations around service and citizenship, we can begin to bridge the divide between veterans and the “other 99%”.

How can I take part?

We’re working to close the divide through conversations that help us reach a deeper understanding of what separates military and civilian life. That’s where you come in.

Get involved today—below, take a second to let us know what you want our team to cover as they travel the country. And stay connected on social media using the hashtag #VetsComingHome.

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#WhatWorks: A Thriving Career

Finding a job post-service isn’t the end of the road. Veterans share how they not only found a new paycheck,…(more)

#WhatWorks – Finding Your Purpose

Three veterans share via essays on Medium how they rediscovered a sense of purpose after life in the military. Refuse…(more)

Finding what works for veterans

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military-civilian divide, veterans, Veterans Coming Home