Poppies

Battling the silence

Some ex-service men and women experience difficulties in readjusting to civilian life after leaving the military, especially those that have participated in war. There is an estimated 14,000-20,000* veterans in prison or on probation in the UK. Research within the Criminal Justice Research Group at LJMU has uncovered the need for a platform where marginalised voices and alternative perspectives on the topic of veteran offenders, as well as veteran affairs as a whole, could be heard. Reimagine the Veteran is a new website that aims to challenge the perceptions of veterans.

The project was born out of the premise that the problems faced by veterans today require new forms of thinking and analysis and this can only occur if veterans aren’t marginalised from the process. The new website will provide veterans and those interested in veteran affairs, who feel they aren’t given a voice, an opportunity to share their experiences and ideas, join in debates, and learn from each other. It will be the only resource of its kind.

Having recently received LJMU’s Teaching and Learning Excellence Award, project lead Emma Murray decided to use the Award funding to develop a website in the hopes of reaching the widest audience possible. While first and foremost a teaching tool and learning resource for students on undergraduate and postgraduate criminology courses at LJMU, the online tool will extend its reach to include the veteran affairs research community as well as charities, policymakers, politicians, veterans themselves and other interested visitors.

Once launched, the website will continue to develop over time with the aim of becoming the definitive resource on the subject. It will take advantage of technology to feature online video resources, webinars and live-streaming lectures with key speakers.

There are approximately 31,000 veterans in Liverpool, that figure is set to increase over the next few years as a further 4,000 leave service and return home.

LJMU has reached out to FACT to collaborate on this project. FACT has successfully set up a digital arts project called VIP – Veterans in Practice. With VIP, veterans from Liverpool and further afield meet each week to work alongside digital artists on animation, photography, writing and IT projects. Inspired by VIP, the Reimagine the Veteran website will feature an online art gallery where veterans can express themselves creatively and, hopefully, provoke thought amongst viewers.

Besides its fundamental goals as an online teaching tool, academic resource, and platform to reach out to the veteran community, the website will also function as a means of providing employability opportunities to LJMU students. As the project develops, there will be a need to recruit research assistants from the MA programme to continue work on the website, giving them a tangible product on which to further develop their research skills. In addition, as a cross-collaborative project, students from the Liverpool Screen School will be invited to film various pieces for the project after shadowing a professional film crew.

Reimagine the Veteran will launch in August 2016.

*Actual figures are difficult to ascertain but the numbers are significant.

The number of charities devoted to veteran causes has increased in the last 15 years from around 300 to 5,000 due to changes in understanding the needs of veterans.