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The link that current and former service members have with the governments they serve is unique. Following Giorgio Agamben’s work on forms of life, this paper argues that those who choose to take part in military service exist as a unique, emergent form of life. This form of life often stands at the intersection of nationalistic mythmaking and the lived realities of service members prior to, during, and after their service. The author employs content relevant non-fiction vignettes. These sections follow Leon Anderson’s notion of “analytic autoethnography.” Topics explored include liminal experiences in military service and military operational realities. The paper also explores mechanical allegories of the soldier and veteran their implications on the life of the veteran. This research was conducted between August 2016 and May 2017. The author is a veteran and sole researcher for this work. Through the autoethnographic method, the work decodes and organizes the author’s personal military experience, highlighting service member and veteran voices that are often filtered through more traditional academic work on the topic as a means of demystifying military service and experience. The author concludes that by developing our understanding of service members and veterans as a form of life we can make the notions surrounding them more intimate and contextual, allowing us space to understand those individuals outside of the images and myth that often precede them.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • Put Yourself in My Combat Boots

  • Journal title
    • Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship

  • Volume
    • 13

  • Issue
    • 4

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • License
  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States government. There are no conflicts of interest to report for the author.