VIDEO – The DAV Distinguished Speaker Series – Bridging the Gap: Sebastian Junger on the Dangers of the Military-Civilian Divide

The 2022 DAV Distinguished Speaker Series features a discussion about the military-civilian divide with noted author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger. Hosted by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and Harvard Law Armed Forces Association.


The military-civilian divide—the experiential, cultural, and social gulf between service members and veterans, and civilians—exerts a powerful, albeit rarely acknowledged, influence on American society. Since 2001, the U.S. has taken up arms in two distant countries as part of the longest sustained military operations in American history. Yet, unlike in prior eras, a remarkably narrow sliver of the American populace has participated in these wars or known someone who has done so. Perhaps, more so than at any other time in recent history, myths, misunderstandings, and incomprehension of military service predominate. The widening gulf between military and civilian worlds has profound consequences. It informs the politics and economics of war and peace, conceptions of public service and national sacrifice, and the extent to which those who have worn the uniform can successfully re-integrate into their communities.

Few have thought as deeply and written as impactfully on the military-civilian divide as our distinguished speaker, Sebastian Junger. In addition to sharing his own hard-earned perspective on this critical issue, Junger will also be in conversation with three exceptional discussants:  DAV’s Brian Buckwalter; Navy veteran Robert Santiago, the City of Boston’s Commissioner of Veterans Services; and Harvard Law School student Phoebe Kotlikoff, Vice President of the Armed Forces Association and a current Navy reservist. Together, they will take up a host of pressing questions, including the everyday realities of the military-civilian divide, what can be done to respond to the divide, whether or not the divide is inevitable, and to what extent the divide may impact our nation’s ability to fight its future wars.


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