Term of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social Sciences (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Eric Silva

Committee Member 1

Ted Brimeyer

Committee Member 2

Nancy Malcom


This ethnographic content analysis of veterans in letters to the editor builds on the existing literature in two ways. First it examines the new time frame of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Second it deals with new data—letters to the Editor and Op-Eds. The new timeframe allows me to address the following questions. (1) What types of frames are currently associated with veterans after over eleven years of continuous combat? (2) Does the amount of sympathy in framings of veterans found by this research seem to differ from the amount of sympathy found in the framings of veterans in the literature? The literature covering the social construction of veterans largely deals with media frames of veterans and with how elites, such as policy makers framed veterans. Researching letters to the editor allows the chance to see how non-elites frame veterans. This study uncovered the following frames of veterans: deserving/undeserving, unwell/well, competent/incompetent, forgotten/remembered, mainstream/out of the mainstream, and trustworthy/untrustworthy. Veterans were more often framed as deserving than undeserving, as unwell than well, as competent than incompetent, as forgotten than remembered, as mainstream than out of the mainstream, and as trustworthy than untrustworthy. The unwell and forgotten frames point to the public viewing veterans as undergoing hardships. The deserving, competent, mainstream, and trustworthy frames point to the public as viewing veterans as good or unimpeachable. One of the main takeaways from the data seems to be that veterans are generally seen as unwell, but also as deserving—in some cases very deserving.