Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationVanderbilt U.
Grant numberGr. 9264
Approve DateApril 11, 2016
Project TitleMacLeish, Dr. Kenneth Thomas, Vanderbilt U., Nashville, TN - To aid research on 'Accounting for Trauma: Diagnosis, Institutions, and Everyday Life After War'
KENNETH MacLEISH, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, was granted funding in April 2016 to aid research on ‘Accounting for Trauma: Diagnosis, Institutions, and Everyday Life After War.’ This project is an ethnographic investigation of how institutionalized and vernacular manifestations of diagnosis shape everyday experiences of post-military life for military veterans, their families, their broader community, and their advocates and professional caretakers. Diagnosable mental illness, chiefly posttraumtic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance use, have come to serve as the primary lens through which the American public, military and state institutions (including the Veterans Health Administration, VA), and veterans themselves, understand the effects of war on those who fight it. The grantee conducted extensive observation and over 50 ethnographic interviews at novel sites of veteran care in a military community in the US south. The sites include a faith-based veteran trauma recovery program; a veteran treatment court (VTC) where veteran offenders complete a therapeutic treatment program in lieu of jail; and a network of local mental health care providers, advocates, and support workers. The study found that in these novel and emergent spaces of care, diagnosis operates far beyond, but still in relation to, clinical and bureaucratic domains, governing and shaping but never fully defining the trajectories of life in the aftermath of war.