This paper explores the public image of Dutch veterans, the influence of Afghanistan and Dutch Veterans Day.
Veterans have often been deployed under difficult conditions and have risked their health and even their lives for a cause held in high regard by society. They therefore expect in return to be given care in the event of health problems and to receive social recognition for their efforts, risk and sacrifices. Although some Dutch veterans do not (yet) share the perception, earlier studies (IUS papers 2005 en 2007) reveal a growing appreciation by Dutch society for veterans and a generally positive portrayal of veterans by the Dutch media.1 Up to 2007, social attitudes about veterans were steadily improving, probably due in part to an active veterans policy and the creation (in 2005) of a national veterans day. On the other hand, the traditional image projected in the media of veterans as heroes has since the 1980s been losing out to the image of veterans as victims with (mental) health problems.2 This latter image is not likely to please many veterans.
Elands, M., Algra, G., Tilburg, A. van., Schoeman, J. and Zijl, P. H. V., 2009. Combat and Commemoration: The public image of Dutch veterans and the influence of Afghanistan and Dutch Veterans Day. Veteraneninstituut, Netherlands.