Professor Explores Veteran Identity in New Book

Published on July 14, 2022

Weaving together lessons learned over two decades of personal and professional experiences in the world of veterans affairs, Dr. Travis Martin’s book, “War & Homecoming: Veteran Identity and the Post-9/11 Generation,” is a critical examination of what it means to be a veteran. 

Martin is director of the Kentucky Center for Veterans Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, administrator of first-year courses and a veteran of the United States Army. This is his first published book. 

“Often, veterans are implicitly asked to conform to the stereotypes of the superficially praised ‘hero’ or the ‘wounded warrior’ who is perceived as a member of a victim class,” he said. “I believe the book can help tear down these social constructs so that veterans might decide for themselves what it means to be a veteran – to exist as individuals.” 

Ultimately, Martin said he wants readers of his book to better understand that veterans deserve to be considered as more than the categories of “hero” and “wounded warrior” society tends to place them into. His work at EKU has allowed him to meet veterans who defy those stereotypical categories. 

“The college campus is a major site of transformation for veterans, spanning both geographic location and generations,” he said.

He provided an example of one student veteran in his class who confronted another student who wasn’t taking the class topics seriously. 

“In pure Army-sergeant fashion, she said, ‘Nobody’s forcing you to be here. I am here to learn, and I know I am not the only one.’ She was not the only one who wanted to learn, but in that moment, she was the only student veteran in the room, and as such, had what I call the ‘symbolic authority’ to shape her classmates’ perceptions of veterans. And she did it in a way that improved student learning for the rest of the semester.”

“War and Homecoming” will be available in bookstores and online July 26. Martin will discuss and sign copies of his book at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington July 27 at 7 p.m. He is scheduled to sign his book at Barnes & Noble at EKU Saturday, September 10 at 2 p.m.