What’s in a Name? Defining and Caring for “Veterans”


This article examines the UK definition of a veteran from an international perspective. It also analyses how veterans interest groups use this definition to provide care and support to the UK veteran population.


An important feature of civil-military relations is the way in which states recognize the sacrifices that the men and women of the armed forces give to their country and provide care and support for them and their families once they leave the military as veterans. Yet states differ not only in the levels and kinds of support provided for ex-service personnel but also in their very definition of what a veteran is. This article examines the case of the United Kingdom from an international perspective. It explains how and why the United Kingdom has developed a particular-and inclusive-definition of veteran and, in conjunction with veterans interest groups, a strategy for allocating scarce resources to this group. The article analyzes attempts to mitigate the effects of social exclusion suffered by some subgroups within the veteran population, although the great majority does well at least in terms of short-term employment prospects. It concludes with an analysis of the dilemmas that are likely to confront those responsible for developing policy on veterans issues in the future, especially where to target scarce resources in such an inclusively defined group of the population.

Full Reference

What's in a Name? Defining and Caring for "Veterans". Christopher Dandeker, Simon Wessely, Amy Iversen, John Ross .Armed Forces & Society. Vol 32, Issue 2, pp. 161 - 177