Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump claimed that American veterans were treated worse than refugees and undocumented immigrants. That belief—that the government was taking in refugees while abandoning its own soldiers—first emerged, as this essay shows, in the wake of the Vietnam War, when songwriters, journalists, and filmmakers began reimagining the white male veteran as “like a refugee” who had been dislocated from his innocence, his youth, and the national fantasies on which he was raised. The story of the veteran-as-refugee begins with the psychiatric research of the<< antiwar liberals Robert Jay Lifton and Chaim Shatan, whose writing led to the inclusion in 1980 of post-traumatic stress disorder in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and it resurfaces in the POW/MIA myth, veteran tour services to Vietnam, and the veteran literature through which most American high school and college students learn about the war in Southeast Asia. Following how the white veteran became like a refugee reveals how Southeast Asian refugees were erased from what Tim O’Brien calls “true war stories” and how pro-veteran politics became anti-refugee policies.


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pp. 83-104
Launched on MUSE
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