Johanna Söderström
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“Veteran” as a political identity
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This chapter examines how the veteran identity is constructed by the former combatants themselves, and as such it tries to address how the veteran identity is politically understood and internalized. The chapter demonstrates how the veteran identity is linked to the (new) regime and state, and notions of citizenship in general, through specific values and roles associated with the veteran, and how these relate to the life path and choices of the returning combatant. This chapter shows how claims of recognition are formulated and how they are directed at the state, society, and other veterans, and the centrality of a culture of heroes among all three groups. Their culture of heroes and recognition claims are important drivers for how former combatants formulate their own involvement in politics, and their own conceptualization of themselves as engaged citizens. The culture of heroes and the centrality of service color how to participate in society after war as they provide moral and political guidance, but also how the research participants evaluate other parts of the veteran community and political community. Their achievements during the war (the outcome of the war or their personal achievement) as well as their grievances associated with the war or their homecoming form the basis for their recognition claims. In relation to this, many expressed a sense of a broken pact with the state, and thus sought more extensive recognition from the state, and ended up being pulled into politics.

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