Winners, Losers, Friends, and Enemies on the New Terrain of Veterans Affairs
"This chilling account ... takes a critical look at the many players involved in shaping veteran life in the United States." —The New York Times Book Review
In Our Veterans, Suzanne Gordon, Steve Early, and Jasper Craven explore the physical, emotional, social, economic, and psychological impact of military service and the problems that veterans face when they return to civilian life. The authors critically examine the role of advocacy organizations, philanthropies, corporations, and politicians who purport to be “pro-veteran.” They describe the ongoing debate about the cost, quality, and effectiveness of healthcare provided or out-sourced by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). They also examine generational divisions and political tensions among veterans, as revealed in the tumultuous events of 2020, from Black Lives Matter protests to the Trump-Biden presidential contest. Frank and revealing, Our Veterans proposes a new agenda for veterans affairs linking service provision to veterans to the quest for broader social programs benefiting all Americans.
Meet the authors of Our Veterans
Suzanne Gordon is an award-winning journalist and author. She has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic Monthly, the American Prospect, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, JAMA, the Annals of Internal Medicine, and others. She is the co-editor of the Culture and Politics of Healthcare Work series at Cornell University Press.
Steve Early has been an author, organizer, lawyer, union representative, and labor activist for the past forty-five years. He has written four other books, including Refinery Town and Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress. Steve has served on the editorial advisory committees for four labor-related publications–Labor Notes, New Labor Forum, WorkingUSA and Social Policy. He lives in Richmond, California, with his wife, Suzanne Gordon.
Jasper Craven is a freelance reporter covering the military and veterans’ issues. His writing has appeared in the Vermont Digger, Politico, The Intercept, the Boston Globe, and the New York Times. He invites you to subscribe to his newsletter Battle Borne for direct original reporting and analysis.
Praise for Our Veterans
“This chilling account explores the physical, economic and psychological consequences of military service on veteran health and takes a critical look at the many players involved in shaping veteran life in the United States.”
“Our Veterans is just what we need right now – an up-to-date, solidly reported, pulls-no-punches account of what it’s like to be a veteran in America today. Deftly avoiding the dichotomy of veterans as either heroes or victims, the authors explore the health, employment, community, and political issues that former soldiers, especially the post 9/11 cohort, are threading their way through. This book is very well done and I thank the authors for writing it.”
“Americans disagree on many things, but we all love and honor our veterans, right? Not according to this eye-opening book. Finally we have an honest account that contrasts our game-day celebration of veterans with the cold realities many of them face in post-military life. Written with compassion and just the right amount of outrage, Our Veterans is an essential contribution to an urgent national debate.”
“As this book reveals, too many men and women in the military are exposed, callously and carelessly, to a toxic work environment. Their service-related problems can lead to unemployment, homelessness, and high suicide rates. That’s why veterans need more real friends, in Congress and the public, who will better defend the lifesaving programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Our Veterans is a call to action by everyone concerned about health equity and educational opportunity for all Americans.”
Our Veterans events schedule
Rotary Club | Novato, CA | August 23, 2022
8:00 am to 8:40 am: Suzanne and Steve will speak at Moylan’s Brewery and Restaurant, 15 Rowland Way, Novato, CA. 94945
2:00 pm/EST to 3:00 pm/EST: Suzanne and Jasper will join leaders of the New York Health Foundation for a free Zoom conversation to discuss how the VA’s increased reliance on private sector care, the evolving political landscape, and an increasingly diverse veteran population impact the future of veteran health care. Register here.
1:00 pm/PT: Suzanne appears on book related panel, on “Veteranhood: Hope and Rage in U.S. and British Ex-Military Life,” at the Veterans For Peace National Convention.
Book Party and Fundraiser | Richmond, CA | August 31, 2022
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm: Steve and Suzanne speak at Our Veterans event benefitting the Richmond Pulse newspaper, a community newspaper. Kaleidoscope Coffee, 109 Park Place, Richmond, CA. 94801
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm: Suzanne and Steve speak about the book at Veterans Memorial Building, (Room 206), 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, as part of KPFA author series.
5:30 pm: All three co-authors will speak at 3 Allen Street, Hanover, NH 03765. For details, see: facebook.com/events/1209501852943727
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm: All three co-authors will speak at Phoenix Books, 191 Bank Street, Burlington, Vermont, 05401. For details, see: https://www.phoenixbooks.biz/events
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm: Steve and Suzanne will speak at Porter Square Books, 25 White Street, Cambridge, MA, 02140. (For details, when posted, see: https://www.portersquarebooks.com/event)
Rotary Club | Richmond, CA | September 30, 2022
1:00 pm to 1:30 pm: Suzanne and Steve will speak at Richmond Country Club, 1 Markovich Lane, Richmond, CA 94806. ( https://richmondcarotary.org/calendar/ )
Rotary Club | Napa, CA | October 12, 2022
12:00 pm: Suzanne and Steve will speak at NAPA Elks Club, 2840 Soscol Avenue, Napa, CA 94558. ( http://www.naparotary.org/ )
Suzanne will speak at PNHP’s annual meeting at the Park Plaza Hotel, 50 Park Plaza, Boston, MA, 02116. For further schedule and registration information, see: https://pnhp.org/2022-annual-meeting/
1:00 pm to 2:30 pm, Suzanne, Jasper, and Steve will speak at the offices of American Prospect, 1225 I Street NW, Washington, DC about a new agenda for veterans affairs, after the mid-term elections. Advocates for veterans, VA patients and care-givers, labor and healthcare reformers, and Congressional staff members are all invited to participate.
Rotary Club | Napa, CA | December 1, 2022
7:15 am to 8:15 am: Suzanne will speak to NAPA Sunrise Rotary Club members, at the Silverado Resort and Spa, 1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa, CA, 94558. ( http://www.naparotary.org/ )
Rotary Club | El Cerrito, CA | January 5, 2023
12:15 pm to 1:30 pm: Suzanne will speak at the Berkeley Country Club, 9401 Cutting Boulevard, El Cerrito, CA 94530.
Rotary Club | Pinole, CA | January 12, 2023
12:30 pm to 1:30 pm: Suzanne will speak at the Pear Street Bistro, 2395 San Pablo Avenue, Pinole, CA. 94564
San Jose Peace & Justice Center | San Jose, CA | January 28, 2023
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm: Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon will speak about Our Veterans—and why peace and justice activists should be concerned about veterans issues. San Jose Peace & Justice Center, 48 South 7th Street, San Jose, CA, 95112. For more information, call 408-297-2299.
West County Forum | San Pablo, CA | February 9, 2023
12:00 pm to 1:30 pm: Suzanne and Steve will speak at a lunchtime meeting at La Strada Restaurant, 2215 Church Lane, San Pablo, CA, 94806. For more information, see: westcountyforum.com
Veterans For Peace | Albuquerque, NM | February 9, 2023
5:30 pm: Suzanne will join VFP members for a Zoom discussion of VA-related issues. For details, see:
First Unitarian Church | Portland, OR | March 29, 2023
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon will participate in an evening forum with progressive veterans groups like VFP and Common Defense, VA union members and patients, veterans in postal unions facing similar privatization threats, along with Portland activists working on healthcare reform, peace and social justice issues. First Unitarian Church, 1211 SW Main Street, Portland, OR, 97205. Details: firstunitarianportland.org
Webinar: Save Our VA | March 16, 2023
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm. “What Single Payer Activists Need to Know About.” Suzanne will be joined by Veterans for Peace member Bruce Carruthers, a “Save Our VA” campaigner; Lakiesha Lloyd, an Army veteran, Common Defense organizer and VA patient in West Virginia; and Dr. Jim Martin, a VA medical center staff member and AFGE leader from Chicago. Details available soon.
Washington State Labor Council | Seattle, WA | March 28, 2023
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Steve and Suzanne will be joined by local labor, veterans organization, and healthcare reform activists in a forum on “Labor, Veterans, Healthcare Profiteering and The Fight Against Privatization,” at the WSLC office, 321 16th Ave. South, Seattle, Washington, 98144. Details on other speakers and sponsoring organizations TBA soon.
Labor Notes TroubleMaker School |Oakland, CA | April 8, 2023
9:00 am to 4:00 pm: Steve will be book tabling and distributing information about the community-labor campaign against VA privatization at a day-long labor conference at Oakland Technical High School, 4351 Broadway, Oakland, CA. For complete schedule and registration information, see: labornotes.org/events/2023/bay-area-troublemakers-school
Noon PST / 3:00 pm EST: Suzanne and Jasper, joined by members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) who helped produce a new report on VA privatization. will discuss its findings. Those interested in attending register here.
NFFE Forum on "The Future of VA Healthcare” | Online & San Francisco, CA | April 27, 2023
Green Apple Books | San Francisco, CA | May 1, 2023
7:00 pm: Steve will speak about Our Veterans at Green Apple Books, 1231 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA, 94122. Details, when available, can be found at :
Columbus Book Festival | Columbus, OH | July 15-16, 2023
Vermont AFL-CIO Convention | Jay Peak, VT | September 9-10, 2023
Autumn Leaves Bookstore | Ithaca, NY | September 13, 2023
7 PM: Steve and Suzanne will discuss Our Veterans at a great college town bookstore now operated by PM Press. 115 East State St., Ithaca, NY. 14853. For details, see: facebook.com/AutumnLeavesBooks/
Howard Zinn Book Festival San Francisco, CA | December 3, 2023
10 AM to 6 PM: Steve and Suzanne will be book tabling and joining members of NFFE and AFGE, VFP, postal workers, and Bay Area single payer advocates at a workshop on strategies for fighting privatization of the VA, the Postal Service, and Medicare. The ZBF will be held at the Mission Campus of San Francisco City College, 1125 Valencia St., SF, 94110. For exact time and place of workshop and registration info, see: zinnbookfair.org