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Fighting for Peace

Veterans and Military Families in the Anti–Iraq War Movement

2014
Author:

Lisa Leitz

Fighting for Peace

The story of the “military peace movement” that opposed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

Fighting for Peace brings to light an important yet neglected aspect of opposition to the Iraq War—the role of veterans and their families. Drawing on extensive participant observation and interviews, Lisa Leitz demonstrates how the harrowing war experiences of veterans and their families motivated a significant number of them to engage in peace activism.

Lisa Leitz has effectively built on classic articles and books in social movement studies to tell a new story: that of the particular experiences of veterans and their families who choose to break the bonds of military silence. Fighting for Peace offers a data-rich study of how identity development and deployment is critical to movement growth. Leitz also deepens our understanding of emotion work and why it is essential to the construction of a collective identity among movement participants.

Lynne M. Woehrle, Mount Mary University

Fighting for Peace brings to light an important yet neglected aspect of opposition to the Iraq War—the role of veterans and their families. Drawing on extensive participant observation and interviews, Lisa Leitz demonstrates how the harrowing war experiences of veterans and their families motivated a significant number of them to engage in peace activism.

Married to a Navy pilot herself, Leitz documents how military peace activists created a movement that allowed them to merge two seemingly contradictory sides of their lives: an intimate relation to the military and antiwar activism. Members of the movement strategically deployed their combined military–peace activist identities to attract media attention, assert their authority about the military and war, and challenge dominant pro-war sentiment. By emphasizing the human costs of war, activists hoped to mobilize American citizens and leaders who were detached from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring the wars to an end, and build up programs to take care of returning veterans and their families.

The stories in Fighting for Peace ultimately reveal that America’s all-volunteer force is contributing to a civilian–military divide that leaves civilians with little connection to the sacrifices of the military. Increasingly, Leitz shows, veterans and their families are being left to not only fight America’s wars but also to fight against them.

Fighting for Peace

Lisa Leitz is assistant professor of sociology and director of Project Pericles at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. She is married to a U.S. naval aviator who flew missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and she was a speaker on the Iraq War and military issues for the 2004 Kerry–Edwards presidential campaign.

Fighting for Peace

Lisa Leitz has effectively built on classic articles and books in social movement studies to tell a new story: that of the particular experiences of veterans and their families who choose to break the bonds of military silence. Fighting for Peace offers a data-rich study of how identity development and deployment is critical to movement growth. Leitz also deepens our understanding of emotion work and why it is essential to the construction of a collective identity among movement participants.

Lynne M. Woehrle, Mount Mary University

Fighting for Peace is a remarkable chronicle of veterans and military families, the military peace community, which was actively trying to stop the US war on Iraq. Leitz, as both a military spouse and a social scientist, observed with a trained eye how military peace groups organized and interacted among themselves, as well as with other anti-war groups. Leitz's analysis of these groups' efforts brings back great memories of tens of thousands of citizens working together to attempt to end the wars.

Col. Ann Wright, co-author of DISSENT: Voices of Conscience

Leitz has put together a credible book detailing a movement that works on behalf of the needs of war veterans in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has shifted its own emphasis to speaking out against future wars.

Publishers Weekly

Fighting for Peace

Contents

Preface. Contradictions: Peace/War and Observer/Participant
Abbreviations

Introduction: The Military Peace Movement
1. Joining the Military Peace Movement: Risky Business
2. Insider-Outsiders: From Warriors to War Protestors
3. Building a Family and Transforming Activists’ Emotions
4. Managing and Deploying the Insider-Outsider Identity
5. Using Grief to Connect with Bystanders
Conclusion: One War Ends, Another War Continues

Appendix. Timeline of Major Events: Wars, Public Opinion, and Protests
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Fighting for Peace

UMP blog - For military families, the battle for inner peace during deployment is hard-fought.

At the same time that my book Fighting for Peace was released, I welcomed my husband, David, home from his fourth lengthy deployment. There was no fanfare and little was done by our community to acknowledge either of our sacrifices while he was deployed or when he returned. There were no military ceremonies to mark his departure or his return; additionally, since this was an individual augmentation I had no spousal support group during the time he was away.

Read the full article.