The thin line between ‘‘Crazy’’ and ‘‘Hero’’: Exploring the multiple statuses of US Veterans in a work-therapy program

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores how US veterans who suffer from mental health problems navigate between two primary statuses: national hero and mental patient. The analysis reveals a more nuanced understanding than previous research, which has focused on a simple negative association between positive veteran identity and stigma. Qualitative evidence collected in a work-therapy program for veterans demonstrates that the status of mental patient became salient in peer-group activities, where it engendered a sense of solidarity and mutual empathy, and in interactions outside the mental health care facility, where it involved a sense of stigma. The status of being a national hero emerged in interactions with casual visitors from whom material contributions were sought, but did not reinforce a sense of positive veteran identity because veterans were aware of its instrumental nature. When leaving the program, a strong sense of stigma emerged despite the possibility of embracing the veteran identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2013.


  • Mental health care
  • National hero
  • Stigma
  • Symbolic interactionism
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Safety Research


Dive into the research topics of 'The thin line between ‘‘Crazy’’ and ‘‘Hero’’: Exploring the multiple statuses of US Veterans in a work-therapy program'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this