7 September 2018

From Warforce to Workforce: Danish Veterans' Career Changes

Associate Professor Birgitte Refslund Sørensen has contributed to the book 'Conflict Veterans: Discourses and Living Contexts of an Emerging Social Group' with the chapter 'From Warforce to Workforce: Danish Veterans' Career Changes.' The chapter addresses the struggle for veterans to enter the civil workforce.

Since the early 1990s, more than 43.000 Danish soldiers have been deployed to one or more international military operations and have experienced the predicaments of readjusting to everyday civilian life on their return. For some veterans, readjustment has implied a forced or voluntary shift from a military to a civilian career. In this chapter, Birgitte Refslund Sørensen explores veterans’ career changes from military to civilian life as one particular and so far largely overlooked ramification of Denmark’s recent international military engagement. In the first part of the chapter, she briefly discusses how this issue has been framed and how the veteran has been imagined within the wider context of Denmark’s national veterans’ policy. Against this backdrop, she proceeds to examine, through a number of case studies, how individual veterans approached and experienced the transition. Taking her point of departure in Cheryl Mattingly’s work on “narrative experiments” (2000, 2013) and Paul Higate’s understanding of “embodied continuities” (1998, 2001, 2003), Birgitte Refslund Sørensen shows, how veterans experimented with and rearticulated aspects of their military past — security, execution, motivation and expertise work — in their new work contexts in order to prove their relevance to the civilian world and regain a sense of ontological security through a new work identity.

Birgitte Refslund Sørensen, From Warforce to Workforce: Danish Veterans' Career Changes, Cambridge Scholar Publishing, 2018.