Our Veterans

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

Suzanne Gordon

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

Steve Early

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

Jasper Craven

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.”

NY Times Book Review

“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.”

Nan Levinson

Tufts University lecturer, author of "War Is Not a Game: The New Antiwar Soldiers and the Movement They Built"

“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.”

Stephen Kinzer

former NY Times correspondent, author of "Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change"

“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.”

Michael Blecker

executive director of Swords to Plowshares, Vietnam veteran

Our Veterans events schedule

Rotary Club | Novato, CA | August 23

8:00 am to 8:40 am: Suzanne and Steve will speak at Moylan’s Brewery and Restaurant, 15 Rowland Way, Novato, CA. 94945

N.Y. Health Foundation | Zoom | August 23

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.

Veterans For Peace 2022 National Convention | Zoom | August 26

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. For registration information, see:  https://www.vfpconvention.org/registration

Book Party and Fundraiser | Richmond, CA | August 31

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

KPFA Author Series Event | San Francisco, CA | September 7

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. (For details and ticket ordering, see: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/steve-early-and-suzanne-gordon-our-veterans-tickets-388273204607

Still North Books & Bar | Hanover, NH | September 12

5:30 pm: All three co-authors will speak at 3 Allen Street, Hanover, NH 03765. For details, see: facebook.com/events/1209501852943727

Phoenix Books | Burlington, VT | September 13

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

Porter Square Books | Cambridge, MA | September 21

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

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

12:00 pm: Suzanne and Steve will speak at NAPA Elks Club, 2840 Soscol Avenue, Napa, CA 94558. ( http://www.naparotary.org/ )

Physicians for A National Health Program | Boston, MA | November 4-5

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/

American Prospect | Washington, DC | November 14

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. Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/do-veterans-need-a-new-agenda-in-washington-tickets-433088749107

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/ )

Veterans For Peace | Albuquerque, NM | December 12, 2022

5:30 pm: Suzanne will join VFP members for a Zoom discussion of VA-related issues. For details, see:
https://www.facebook.com/VFP063

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 14, 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.

First Unitarian Church | Portland, OR | March 2023 (date TBA)

Date & Time TBA. 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 when available can be found at: https://www.firstunitarianportland.org/blog/events-calendar/