Research Programs: Collaborative Research

Period of Performance

1/1/2013 - 12/31/2014

Funding Totals

$126,000.00 (approved)
$126,000.00 (awarded)

The New Normal: Deployment Stress on a Post 9-11 Homefront

FAIN: RZ-51459-12

University of Colorado, Denver (Denver, CO 80202-1702)
Jean Scandlyn (Project Director: December 2011 to May 2015)
Sarah J. Hautzinger (Co Project Director: December 2011 to May 2015)

Completion of a multi-year study of returning soldiers diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and the impact on individuals, families, and communities. (24 months)

What do multiple deployments ask of soldiers, families and surrounding communities? The "New Normal" presents soldiers returning from war to a particular American 'homefront' in the West. We begin with soldiers struggling to find paths "all the way home": especially those facing PTSD, brain injury and depression. We explore these not as individualized diagnoses but collectively in terms of cultural stigma and incompatibility with "Soldier' ethos." The project then turns from the soldier-hero to illuminate the 'supporting cast': spouses and other family members, providers of health and social services, and community organizations including anti-militarization protestors. Here the underlying metaphor shifts away from the hero's epic journey toward the baffling labyrinth that is war, drawing in the military and civilians. Finally, we explore fact-to-face dialogue in varied community settings, inviting readers to follow locals' journeys as they reckon with the post-9/11 wars.

Media Coverage

Book Review (Review)
Author(s): Hanna Kienzler
Publication: Medical Anthropology Quarterly
Date: 6/14/2015
Abstract: Review the the book Beyond Post-Traumatic Stress: Homefront Struggles with the Wars on Terror.
URL: http://

Watson project explores war’s toll on economy and health (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Susannah Howe
Publication: Brown Daily Herald
Date: 11/17/2014
Abstract: Article discussing the article "Collective Reckoning with the Post-9/11 Wars on a Colorado Homefront" as part of coverage of the Watson Institute's Costs of War project.

"This American Tragedy" (Review)
Author(s): Waterston, Alisse
Publication: Dialectical Anthropology
Date: 3/28/2015
Abstract: Review of the book Beyond Post-Traumatic Stress: Homefront Struggles with the Wars on Terror.
URL: http://DOI 10.1007/s10624-015-9376-3

Associated Products

Beyond Post-Traumatic Stress: Homefront Struggles with the Wars on Terror (Book)
Title: Beyond Post-Traumatic Stress: Homefront Struggles with the Wars on Terror
Author: Jean Scandlyn
Author: Sarah Hautzinger
Abstract: When soldiers at Fort Carson were charged with a series of 14 murders, PTSD and other "invisible wounds of war" were thrown into the national spotlight. With these events as ther starting point, Jean Scandlyn and Sarah Hautzinger argue for a new approach to combat stress and trauma, seeing them not just as individual medical pathologies but as fundamentally collective cultural phenomena. Their deep ethnographic research, including unusual access to affected soldiers at Fort Carson, also engaged an extended labyrinth of friends, family, communities, military culture, social services, bureaucracies, the media, and many other layers of society. Through this profound and moving book, they insist that invisible combat injuries are a social challenge demanding collective reconciliation with the post-9/11 wars.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: WorldCat listing
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Publisher's listing
Access Model: Book
Publisher: Left Coast Press, Inc.
Type: Multi-author monograph
ISBN: 9781611323665
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

“Victim/Volunteer”: Heroes versus Perpetrators and the Weight of US Servicemembers’ Pasts in Iraq and Afghanistan.” (Article)
Title: “Victim/Volunteer”: Heroes versus Perpetrators and the Weight of US Servicemembers’ Pasts in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Author: Sarah Hautzinger
Author: Jean N. Scandlyn
Abstract: How might military service members figure as perpetrators of human rights violations? The question remains a taboo, painful and suppressed topic in United States’ faceto- face communities with strong veteran and active-duty presences. Our 2008–2014 ethnographic, team-based anthropological fieldwork focused on a mid-sized American city and its adjacent army base. We argue that the ambiguities and contradictions between soldiers-as-perpetrators and more common and public designations for soldiers and veterans – as heroes, protectors and volunteers, but also as victims of circumstance and injury – impede such exploration. War as a framework for legitimising lethal force complicates what constitutes perpetration, as do the implications of all-volunteer forces fighting protracted campaigns. The legacy of the Vietnam War brings key historicity to civilians’ efforts to not repeat the a priori victimisation of veterans as presumed perpetrators, alongside recognition that the signature, psychological and moral injuries of the post-9/11 wars also can render veterans as victims in the public’s perspective. Finally, as counterpoint to the generalised avoidance of confronting rights violations, we draw on a journalist’s account of a veteran who sought to face an Iraqi victim who lost family members directly; their mutual victimhood is
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Access Model: Subscription only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: The International Journal of Human Rights
Publisher: Taylor & Francis

“Collective Reckoning with the Post-9/11 Wars on a Colorado Homefront.” (Article)
Title: “Collective Reckoning with the Post-9/11 Wars on a Colorado Homefront.”
Author: Hautzinger, Sarah
Author: Scandlyn, Jean N.
Abstract: While the majority of veterans return home without major injuries, physical or psychological, and adjust well to civilian life, many still harbor doubts about what they did, what they were asked to do, and whether the costs were worth the price. Our public images exclude the thousands of combatants and civilians injured and killed in Afghanistan and elsewhere who also carry scars, both mental and physical, from the war. Public discourses fail to convey the social costs both to the US, of a citizenry weary of war and yet largely disconnected from the less than 1 percent of the population directly engaged in fighting, and to Afghanistan, of an economy and infrastructure in shambles after over thirty years of continuous conflict. Other papers in this series address the costs to Afghanis; here we draw on five years of fieldwork to portray how one US community shoulders the costs borne at home.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Access Model: Open Access
Format: Other
Periodical Title: Cost of War
Publisher: Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University

“Military Families: The Long Journey Home.” (Book Section)
Title: “Military Families: The Long Journey Home.”
Author: Scandlyn, Jean
Author: Hautzinger, Sarah
Editor: Boulanger, Clare
Abstract: The contemporary all-volunteer army a historic shift in the composition of the army, in which a higher proportion of junior enlisted military personnel is married and has children. Further, in this group there is an extension of the role of spouses and families as sources of stability and unremunerated support and care, and an increasingly explicit acknowledgment of the demands that multiple deployments place on family life. Through personal narratives and participant observation, the authors portray the costs of war on soldiers, their families, and their communities.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description:
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Amazon books
Access Model: Book for purchase
Publisher: Routledge
Book Title: Reflections on America: Anthropological Views of U.S. Culture
ISBN: 978-1629583693

“A Better Way for Us to Deal with PTSD.” (Web Resource)
Title: “A Better Way for Us to Deal with PTSD.”
Author: Scandlyn, Jean
Author: Hautzinger, Sarah
Abstract: Editorial in honor of Veterans' Day advocating a more comprehensive approach to assisting soldiers as they return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Denver Post website

“Reintegration or Treatment: How Military Personnel and Families Seek Mental Health among Competing Models of Care.” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Reintegration or Treatment: How Military Personnel and Families Seek Mental Health among Competing Models of Care.”
Author: Scandlyn, Jean N.
Abstract: Drawing on five years of ethnographic research with Army personnel, active duty and veteran, and their families in Colorado Springs, this paper illustrates how soldiers and family members navigate mental health care through a web of institutions: Army medical services, Tri-Care insurance, the Veterans Administration, civilian providers, and community-based organizations. These institutions and providers have different and often conflicting priorities and models of health and illness. Military providers and leaders must integrate generating mental health, expressed as resilience, with the need to put “boots on the ground.” They must manage conflicts between the warrior ethos, in which mental suffering represents weakness and defeat, and the need for soldiers to access treatment. The Veterans Administration and Tri-Care are necessarily concerned with treating mental illness and ensuring that patients receive evidence-based care. In contrast, community-based providers and organizations seek to assist military personnel with reintegration into civilian life following deployments or leaving military service for which evidence of effectiveness may be more individualized and elusive. Constrained by the institutional focus on treatment of disease, soldiers, their families and civilian providers and agencies nonetheless exercise individual and institutional agency to assist military personnel and families with a variety of needs related to reintegration: from practical issues of housing, employment, education, and adaptive housing, to re-establishing intimate relationships and spiritual and moral healing. High levels of suicide, substance use, and homelessness among veterans attest to the skill and support required to navigate this complex terrain and the health disparities that ensue when they cannot.
Date: 11/21/2015
Conference Name: American Anthropological Association