Murderous, suicidal, unemployed, divorced, violent, homeless—the images of today’s veterans, particularly combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are almost entirely negative.1 This certainly is not the way veterans see themselves and, indeed, is not an accurate depiction of them as a group. Nevertheless, the dominant narrative about veterans depicts a badly damaged personality struggling to make his or her way in civilian society. How did this come about, especially during a time when the military has become the most widely respected institution in the country? And what can be done to change it?
The Negative Image
From the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the entertainment industry has depicted service members and veterans as both psychologically damaged by their military experience and hapless victims of higher forces. For example: