Back in 2004 when she was a speaker on the Iraq War and military issues for the Kerry–Edwards presidential campaign, Lisa Leitz, Ph.D., was struck by the supportive response of veterans and military families.
“I became curious about their role in this overall peace movement. I decided this is interesting. There’s something here. There’s something unique about these voices, especially at this moment in history where the vast majority of Americans don’t have a direct connection to the military,” says Leitz, an assistant professor in Chapman University’s Peace Studies Program.
So Leitz, a scholar interested in social movements as well as the wife of a Naval aviator, spent seven years studying those questions and the result is her book
Fighting for Peace: Veterans and Military Families in the Anti-Iraq War Movement
(Minnesota Press, 2014). Now that book has won an award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Peace, War and Social Conflict. She’ll receive the award in August at the association’s annual meeting.
The main conversation she hopes her book helps spark and support is what she calls a better understanding of “a separation of troops and policy.”
“Helping people to make that distinction between what it means to support the troops and what it means to support the war and how they can be different, not that they have to be different,” she says. “Throughout the last several wars, we’ve seen many politicians and cultural critics that have suggested that one has to do both or they’re bad Americans or unpatriotic or something of this sort.”
Leitz’s husband left active duty just last month, so she knows well the challenges of military family life. She also hopes her book sheds light on that world and moves Americans to become more informed.
“The burden of our foreign policy falls on less than 1 percent of our population. Whenever we talk about doing whatever it is we want to do in the world, these are the people who have to do it,” she says. “If we’re going to continue to spend as much on the military as we do and ask them to engage in so many overseas adventures, citizens should become better acquainted with our foreign policy. That’s something I think too few Americans really do.”