This guest blog post was written by Mariana Grohowski, Editor-in-Chief at the Journal of Veterans Studies (JVS). We recently made all JVS articles searchable as part of the VFR Hub’s repository. There is more information on searching JVS articles on the Hub here.

The first issue of the open access, international, peer-reviewed Journal of Veterans Studies was was published July 2016. In just five years, the journal has published over 160 submissions: an average of 50 submissions a year. According to web analytics, users in Australia, Canada, China, and the United Kingdom read the journal. Virginia Tech Publishing sponsors the journal ensuring open access for all. The editor and editorial board has never received compensation in any capacity. Prior to the partnership with Virginia Tech, the journal ran independently and completely cost free for 3 years (Virginia Tech pays for professional typesetting and web hosting). Starting an academic journal is completely possible thanks to web 2.0 (est. 1999). But starting and maintaining a journal are two very different endeavors. Journal longevity is never a guarantee. However, it is possible that many people with good intentions start journals with a naïve certainty of success and no concern for sustainability.

Undeniably, to start a journal is to place service above oneself. The British Army calls this selfless commitment, while the US Army uses the term selfless service, claiming that “The basic building block of selfless service is the commitment of each team member to [do more] …. to see how he or she can add to the effort.” Although I am not a veteran and have had no military training, I do, to a degree, orient my life towards selfless commitment, strongly believing Aristotle’s words that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Proof of just how strongly I believe this idea of selfless commitment, I started an academic journal—The Journal of Veterans Studies.

I could not have started the journal without a team. Not only did I have a team of people, but I also had (and have) a supportive and encouraging team who rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Though my name may appear at the top of the masthead, I am not the creator of the Journal of Veterans Studies. Sure, I am responsible for pushing a few (digital) buttons, but a group of intelligent, hardworking people (a) had the idea, (b) believed in the idea, (c) acted on behalf of a shared idea, and (d) have not ceased action.

Starting a journal did not intimidate me because I grew up on the internet and witnessed (and tried to assist) a graduate student start and run an award-winning journal. Watching this tired yet passionate student converse with authors and arrange submissions while juggling his studies, showed me that an editor’s job is service oriented, it is provisional. Always wanting to be of service, I followed in his footsteps: I used a completely free, open access software (journal management system) and purchased a web domain with my own money. The other steps to getting the journal where it is today boils down to the selfless service of the team of people you see on the masthead, the hundreds of authors who have contributed articles, the thousands of readers who have showed an interest by navigating to the website, and Virginia Tech Publishing for believing in the journal enough to professionally publish it.

I am proud that the journal has survived (and thrived) for five years. But its success (and sustainability) is due to a group of people enacting selfless commitment to establish and legitimize the field of veterans studies. Truly, that’s the goal, because maybe that’s the greatest way I can honor my father’s (and all service personnel’s) service and sacrifice: to ensure that service personnel and veterans are never again unrepresented (ignored) or misrepresented (stereotyped, stigmatized).

The future of the journal is uncertain, as are all things in life. That said, my hope is for sustainability and longevity. As the journal’s founder (and editor), my greatest hope is that the journal outlives me, but that’s a big wish, and realistically, highly improbable. Because while anyone can start an academic journal, starting and sustaining (and hopefully growing) a journal are very different endeavors. In fact, in my short time (12 years) in academic publishing, I’ve seen handfuls of new academic journals start and fold. Early in JVS’ short history, we acquired a potential competing journal that had a successful call for papers but was unable to publish a single issue. Starting a journal can be an independent act. Growing a journal, however, is not something one can do on their own: one must rely on readers, authors, reviewers, and others, thereby exercising a large degree of hope without any guarantee of fulfillment.