FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 31, 2013  

New book takes a look at how military service shapes the course of people’s lives

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Jill Leonhardt
Over the past century, a large percentage of young Americans have served their country by joining the military.  Today, the more than 1.6 million uniformed military personnel and 22 million veterans currently living and working around the world make up a sizeable and influential demographic group. Military service remains a meaningful pathway to adulthood for the many who join the military during their formative young adult years.  However, little research has previously been done to find out how the lives of military personnel, veterans, and their loved ones differ from those with no direct ties to the military.  The recently published book, Life Course Perspectives on Military Service, edited by Professors Janet M. Wilmoth and Andrew S. London of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, helps fill this gap in knowledge.

The chapters in this edited volume are designed to raise awareness among researchers, policy makers and the public about how people’s lives are affected by their military service.  The pioneering book provides a comprehensive and critical overview of what we know about military service and the life course, what we don’t know, and what we need to do to better understand the role of military service in shaping people's lives.  It examines the factors that shape selection into, and experiences of, military service, including gender, race and ethnicity, and sexual orientation.  It also demonstrates that the military, like colleges and prisons, is a key social institution that engages individuals in early adulthood and shapes the course of their lives as they age, including marriage/family formation, socioeconomic attainment, and health outcomes. .

Several other SU faculty members also contributed chapters to the book, including Maxwell School associate professors Leonard M. Lopoo (who also directs the Center for Policy Research) and Amy Lutz, professor Douglas A. Wolf, and professor of practice at the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics Maria Brown (who obtained a PhD in social science from the Maxwell School).  These and other chapter authors provide valuable insight into how the military has changed over time; how experiences of military service vary across cohorts and individuals with different characteristics; how military service affects the lives of service members’ spouses, children, and families; and the linkages between research and policy.  The volume as a whole also provides guidance for the future by setting the agenda for the next generation of data collection and scholarship on the life course influence of military experience.

Wilmoth serves as director of Syracuse University’s Aging Studies Institute. She earned a PhD in sociology and demography from Pennsylvania State University and specializes in the sociology of aging and the life course, demography, and health.  London received a PhD in sociology and demography from the University of Pennsylvania and specializes in the sociology of medicine and mental health, demography, HIV/AIDS, health services and policy research, and welfare policy.

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The Maxwell School of Syracuse University is a leading academic institution in the United States committed to scholarship, civic leadership, and education in public and international affairs. Maxwell is home to Syracuse University’s social science departments and to numerous nationally recognized multidisciplinary graduate programs in public policy, international studies, social policy, and conflict resolution. Maxwell's graduate program in public administration -- the first of its kind in the nation -- is ranked consistently the leading graduate public affairs program in the country.