Disposable Heroes: The Betrayal of African American Veterans

Benjamin Fleury-Steiner. Rowman & Littlefield, $36 (180p) ISBN 978-1-4422-1785-0
The US military has traditionally been seen as an avenue of economic advancement for African-Americans, especially low-income men seeking to escape poverty. Fleury-Steiner, a Gulf War veteran and a University of Delaware assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, upends this truism in 30 searing oral histories from black veterans of Vietnam and subsequent conflicts, including Iraq. Instead of opportunity, these men, many of them from Wilmington, Delaware, found a military that mirrored the racism of civilian life and failed to provide even the basic training that would translate into better jobs after their tours of duty. The veterans interviewed often returned home to bleak circumstances exacerbated by the federal bureaucracy's indifference to their health issues. The author intersperses these stories with details of his interviewees' often difficult childhoods and family lives. Accounts from Vietnam veterans—"a forgotten bunch of fools" in the words of one vet—who came home to a hostile public and a health care system with a poor understanding of post-traumatic stress syndrome, dominate the book. Fleury-Steiner delivers a stinging indictment of the institution and society that continues to foist a barrage of indignities on African-American men. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Open Ebook - 180 pages - 978-1-4422-1787-4
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