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Defence Research Network

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Monthly Members' Newsletter

Although Remembrance activities were muted this year, we have spent November thinking of service members both past and present.

For new friends, welcome! We are an interdisciplinary network of Masters, PhD and Early Career Researchers focused on defence, security and military topics in relation to policy, strategy, history, culture and society. We hope you find our network interesting, exciting, informative and supportive.

For old friends, thanks for your continued involvement. We would be nothing without you! This November, our theme is veterans and families health and wellbeing. We're getting our hands dirty with creative therapies, we're supporting important research on trauma and transitions, and we've got your Christmas shopping sorted!


Scroll down to get up to date with the news, opinions, and events from our members...

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Together we served side by side, 
Completing our missions with honour and pride.

Together we laughed, together we fell
We did the job in what was hell.

For some we got the call, 
No longer to serve, the biggest fall. 

Injury and illness an abrupt end 
Civvy life hard to comprehend.

The hard days loomed our thoughts lament,
Was this all our duty meant.

Until one day a brother's arm, 
Around the shoulder it meant no harm.

Unto a group that felt akin, 
To laughs and banter, like we're still in. 

And now together we stand tall, 
With each other's back no longer to fall.

'Together' by Simon Bangert

 
Remembrance Day 2020 was a little different to previous years. With crowds prohibited and Royals masked, the scaled-back nature of this year's events seemed to reflect what has been an isolated year for many of us. Nonetheless, this did not make the day any less moving, with the pain of this year bringing a renewed sense of shared grief, but also solidarity and hope, to the country. To comply with national lockdown measures, this year's service was live streamed from the Cenotaph, with people all over the country taking part in remote and socially distanced Remembrance activities. We demonstrated our innate resourcefulness and will to connect across the country, for example the giant poppy mosaic filled with notes of thanks to military veterans. We also connected across lines of difference, with black poppies appearing more frequently as the nation attempts to confront systemic racism.

In a big way, then, technology has been a saving grace in this drive to (re)connect. Providing new ways to lived shared lives while geographically separate or shielding, we owe a lot to the power of virtual communication this year. The incredible impact of Sir Captain Tom Moore would not have been possible without the strength of social media, nor would families have been able to unite across counties, countries, and continents to celebrate Easter, Eid, and yesterday's Thanskgiving. With this month's theme of veterans and families health and wellbeing, recognising the significance of these connections is absolutely vital. It's also important to note the promising tech developments aimed at improving veteran's health and wellbeing, from the US's 'My Military OneSource' to 'HeadFIT' here in the UK. 


What's more, November is 'arts in health' month, and we've been considering the role the arts and other creative activities can play in wellbeing for veterans. Below, we introduce the 
Defence Gardens Scheme Community Interest Company, the work of our lovely committee member Sally Coulthard. This initiative offers nature based therapy to service leavers and their families, drawing on the therapeutic benefits of gardening and the community building opportunities these gardens offer. Help for Heroes' 'Creative Force' Programme is built from the same principles, helping ex-service members to process and recover from the mental and physical ramifications of military service using art and other creative outlets. 

One of these outlets is poetry, and the verse I began with demonstrates the ways that creativity can both encourage therapeutic growth and bring people together. The poet in question is Simon Bangert, former member of the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and Ambassador for Help the Heroes. Simon penned this poem to cope with his PTSD and convey the "strength of the veteran community and brotherhood that serving has, in that we will fall down with you, but we'll also be there to pick you up". Reading this poem, I was reminded of the importance of community and networks, such as the one we have created, for enjoyment, growth, but also healing. I hope that we can provide an outlet for anyone who needs to feel heard and cared for this year.

As always, I wish you a happy, healthy month! 

The DRN Team
In the News... 
Breaking New Ground in Veterans' Wellbeing
Veterans in Angus are digging up the past to cope with the everyday realities of their PTSD. Veterans have been using archaeological digs to enhance their wellbeing, after research found that Scottish veterans were found to have higher than usual levels of anxiety and lower wellbeing scores when compared to their English counterparts. Breaking Ground Heritage, the charity that runs the digs, was set up by an ex-Royal Marine and is focused on promoting the wellbeing of veterans. 
While in the US, a new app has been launched aimed at supporting service personnel and their families. The 'My Military OneSource' mobile app brings together multiple services connecting military personnel and their families to resources to enhance their quality of life. Is it time the UK provided a similar service or app its service personnel and families?  
Additionally, the Forces in Mind Trust has awarded £500,000 to the ADVANCE study, that explores military to civilian transition experiences of combat veterans. Over the next 5 years, as part of a ground-breaking 20-year project, the ADVANCE study will explore outcomes for battlefield casualties in the UK armed forces. 
The Armed Service Trauma Rehabilitation Outcome study is a collaboration between the Academic Department for Military Rehabilitation, Imperial College London and King's College London. It is the first comprehensive long-term cohort study to investigate the physical and psycho-social outcomes of battlefield casualties. The study focuses on those deployed in Afghanistan with the UK Armed Forces between 2002 and 2014.  
What we've been up to... 
Introducing the Defence Gardens Scheme Community Interest Company
In support of the Nov DRN theme, Veterans and their families Health and Wellbeing, DRN is pleased to draw attention to the work of one of our committee members. Sally Coulthard is taking the research she undertook on a MSc in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture - which has been combined with a Churchill Fellowship to Denmark and Scandinavia - forward by establishing the Defence Gardens Scheme Community Interest Company (DGS CIC).

DGS is a developing network of armed forces charities and community gardens offering nature based therapy, a Hub and Spoke model of community based mental health care. The scheme has been developed to meet a need identified by the Defence Select Committee in 2019. In November 2019, the House of Commons Defence Select Committee identified ‘a stark gap in the provision of mental health support for armed forces personnel and their families’ (Mental Health and the Armed Forces. Part Two: The Provision of Care. HC paper 813, Session 2017-19). Concurrently, MOD Transition Policy recognised a requirement to provide ‘a bespoke, holistic, soft landing for those that need it’ (Defence Holistic Transition Policy; MOD 2019). The aim of DGS is to fill this gap, while our objective is to increase access to bespoke nature based therapy. This will provide the time and space for a soft landing and to enable Service Leavers and Veterans and families to benefit from therapeutic support outdoors, while learning new skills and making new friends. DGS supports veterans charities, community mental health service providers and gardening projects to develop and deliver nature based therapy for Service Leavers and Veterans and their families. Research in this area will continue as the scheme is rolled out across the UK. Sally is particularly pleased to announce that another DRN member - Dr Andrea Ellner from Kings College, London - has agreed to be the academic adviser to DGS as part of the DGS Development Advisory Board.

The DGS CIC will be registered early in the New Year and the DGS website available at the same time. We will publish further details when they are available. In the meantime, if you would like to find out more please contact Sally at 
sally@defencegardens.org 

Photograph: Courtesy of the Viscount Brookebororough KG - The DGS Garden at Colebrooke Park, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Home to the first DGS Hub Garden in 2019.
Support Veterans with your Christmas Shop!

Have you not done your Christmas shopping yet? Would you like to support veterans? 
You can combine the two!
We have made a list of brilliant sites which either support veterans or are run by veterans, head to their online shops to find some great gifts and support these brilliant causes.
If you know any other veterans’ charities or organisations, big or small, not listed here, tag us on Twitter @DefenceResNet and we will retweet it!
 

Help for Heroes
Supporting Help for Heroes couldn't be easier with their brilliant online store. As well as stocking their bestselling T-shirts, they have partnered with Oddballs to bring you men's and women's underwear, have introduced a range of Christmas clothing... You can even get matching PJs to wear with your family on Christmas morning!

The Veterans Charity
The Veteran's Charity has your Christmas 2020 look sorted, with branded facemasks available to buy at their store. They also have a great range of hoodies and bobble hats, exactly what you and your family need for a comfy Christmas day.

Veterans Aid 
Veterans Aid are raising money for veterans in crisis by selling brilliant merchandise over on their website. We have our eyes on this waterproof jacket and woolly hat combo, perfect for crisp (and wet!) winter walks.

ABF The Soldiers' Charity 
ABF The Soldiers' Charity shop has some great presents to treat your family, including sports topsmilitary-inspired homeware, and some exclusively designed gift sets They also have lovely Christmas cards to send some love to those you can't see this Christmas.

The Royal British Legion
Head over to the Poppy Shop to find a whole host of Christmas goodies. Games for the family, jewellery by Lesley Sharp, yummy treats, and lotions and potions to help you relax and unwind this Christmas make this shop a go-to this giving season.

Haig Housing
Haig Housing is selling some great merchandise, including this beautiful limited edition book filled with portraits of wounded British Armed Forces personnel captured by Rankin. Proceeds from the book go to the Coming Home Campaign. 

Explorer Coffees
Has someone important in your life been missing their morning cappuccino during lockdown? Or looking for something to put in their new coffee machine? Explorer Coffees is selling fantastic coffee beans, AeroPress coffee makers, as well as all the gadgets you need to be an explorer in 2021.  
Counterinsurgency researchers:
Finding a collaborative ‘insider-outsider’ space 
 
The academic researcher and the military professional are not perhaps the most obvious collaborators: the ‘student’ with a head buried in books and the military-minded leader with operational experience. What could they have to learn from each other? Academia and the military are well known for their distinct institutional cultures that might not seem the most compatible. But when it comes to researching defence, it can be frustrating to find research is not reaching those writing policy and doctrine or that military experiences are not being heard by researchers. Summer 2019 saw us collaborate with the Warfare Branch at the Land Warfare Centre, co-convening to run our first Counterinsurgency Forum. This has continued on a six monthly basis, with the most recent being carried out online. The forum brings together Army officers from the Warfare Branch, who are responsible for authoring the British Army’s doctrine, with a group of PhD researchers from across the country. This standing group of invitees is augmented with a changing group of established academics with a background in counterinsurgency and a practitioner, often from an overseas military, who presents their first-hand experience of a recent COIN campaign. What is unique about this forum is that the established academics are invited to contribute and join the conversation but the research being presented is that of the PhD students and early career researchers. This focus on up and coming research has been refreshing for all involved. Rather than share the detail of the aspects of counterinsurgency we discussed at our most recent forum, this review explores the forum itself as a form of knowledge exchange through the eyes of both the PhD researcher and the military practitioner.

The PhD researcher
 
I have personally found it so refreshing to experience such an open and welcoming forum which is interested in everyone’s work whether taking a critical or more traditional perspective. I have been delighted to hear from fellow researchers that they have similarly found the space to be so helpful to them and their work. I know how much it has meant to the junior academics to have their work so valued and to have such direct contact with the military – something I take for granted as a veteran researcher. Of course, getting feedback on one’s research is always useful, but researchers have shared with me how the forum has given them confidence in understanding which parts of their research is of particular interest to the practitioner audience, as engaged stakeholders in their research, which helps them to frame their outputs and shape future studies. I am hopeful that the connections being made through this forum will go on to enable research agendas to emerge such that we see join research proposals and co-authored papers in the years to come. 

Bringing together such a breadth of PhD research from the historical to the doctrinal, from gender to organisational learning, from Northeast India to Nigeria, has helped us all to think outside of our narrow focus, draw connections with other campaigns and take a broader perspective on counterinsurgency. This has also enabled a number of nascent collaborative relationships to develop whether to produce articles or record podcasts. This forum has genuinely enthused me as to the potential of bringing in the PhD (and early career) researcher to engage directly with the military to share their research and close the gap between the researcher and researched. As a veteran researcher, I am committed to knowledge exchange not least because I recognise how lucky I am to have the language and contacts that given me a unique access and understanding to help facilitate this. I really hope that as we, as a group of researchers, continue in our careers this will be a network which will develop and the collaborations both amongst researchers but also with practitioners will endure to the benefit of both parties. 

Military practitioner
 
The COIN Forum presents a unique opportunity to bring some diversity of thought to the current issues faced by the Army.  The breadth of research being undertaken allows us an insight that goes beyond that which we can produce for ourselves within the resources available to us.  The evidence presented helps inform the way we think about the role of the military in the whole of Government response.  We value the work done by the students and their contribution to the forum and would seek to encourage more students to take up this opportunity for academic/practitioner engagement.
(Virtual) Events...
We might be stuck inside, but this isn't going to stop us connecting as a community. Make sure you've got a strong Wifi signal, because you're going to want to join all of these upcoming webinars...

(Un)realistic research expectations and the 'superstar' academic

Wednesday 2nd December, Zoom, 2pm - 3:30pm

To speak of the increasing workloads, increasing expectations, or the ‘publish or perish’ logics of contemporary academy is not to speak of something new. Rather, the expectations and demands on academics – and early career researchers (ECRs) in particular – have been steadily rising for years. In more recent years, however, these rising demands have combined with the (interrelated) pressures of the increasing marketisation of higher education, growing reliance on contract/precarious/zero-hours academics for teaching provision, and uncertainties surrounding both Brexit and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, to produce a set circumstances whereby ECRs, or those on precarious contracts, are effectively forced to meet increasingly unrealistic research expectations and embody the position of the ‘superstar academic’. Job adverts for lecturer/assistant professor positions now regularly state ‘world-leading research’, innovative teaching techniques, and ‘impact’ as ‘essential criteria’ for applicants, with these positions emerging in an industry already structured by gendered, racialised, heteronormative, ableist and classed inequalities.

Unfortunately, solutions or the ability to enact transformative change is likely beyond the scope of this BISA event. However, this roundtable does offer the opportunity for a number of scholars, at differing stages of their careers, to reflect on this present moment; consider the negotiations and compromises they have made during their time in academia; and offer solidarity, support and practical advice to those who either wish to make, or continue, a career in higher education. The event will broadly take the format of a conversation between participants and the chair, with viewers encouraged to contribute through questions, comments and their own experiences.

Speakers:

  • Dr Jasmine Gani, University of St Andrews
  • Prof Roberta Guerrina, University of Bristol
  • Prof Richard Beardsworth, University of Leeds
  • Dr Toni Haastrup, University of Stirling
  • Prof Kimberly Hutchings, Queen Mary University of London 
  • Dr Jennifer Hobbs, University of Manchester
  • Gwendolene Cheve, PhD candidate, University of Warwick

Chair: 

- Julia Welland (University of Warwick)

Click here to register. Registration will close two hours before the event is due to start.

Perspectives on Research and Work in Developing and Transitional Countries
Tuesday 15th December,  11am - 12.30pm

The South, West and Wales Doctoral training Partnership is running an interesting webinar covering how to best research and work in developing and transitional countries in the field of Defence and Security.
Panellists will bring decades of experience to illustrate and discuss the challenges and opportunities of academic research and of those brought about by capacity building or consultancy work delivered in some testing environments. These include  SSR research in Bosnia and the Western Balkans, research in terrorist organisations, research on armed conflict, human rights and genocide in Guatemala and Colombia, to capacity building work in Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, among others.

The panel will include: 

- Anastasia Filippidou, Lecturer in Terrorism, Intelligence and Conflict Resolution, Cranfield Forensic Institute, Cranfield University

- Edith Wilkinson, Lecturer, Cranfield Forensic Institute (CFI), Cranfield University.

- Gemma Collantes Celador, Academic Director, "Managing Defence in the Wider Security Context" programme (UK MoD), Senior Lecturer in International Security, International Security and Law Group, Cranfield Forensic Institute (CFI), Cranfield University.

- Roddy Brett, Associate Professor, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS), University of Bristol; Pathway Lead, Global Political Economy Programme (ESRC SWDTP). Publications include The Companion to Peace and Conflict Fieldwork, published by Palgrave.

To find out more and register, click
here

FiMT Research Centre Conference 2021: Transition of Service People and Families 

23rd - 24th March 2021

This two-day online conference will focus on the “Transition of Service People and Families”.

Speakers will include a range of experts bringing together policy, research and the ‘lived experience’ to provide unique and rounded perspectives on significant issues of interest. We look forward to welcoming you to this special opportunity to network with others from different sectors working in the field, including academia, the charity sector, military and government.

Click the link to find out more 

As always, keep an eye on our Twitter for new events and opportunities posted/retweeted every day!

Planning a future event?
If you are planning a defence-related event and you would like to reach an audience of like-minded researchers, we'd love to come along! Drop us an email and we can include it in our next newsletter.
 
If you are interested in any of our events but don't want to go alone, or simply want to expand your network, please reach out on Twitter or drop us an email and we can connect you with fellow DRN members who may be planning to attend.
Opportunities...

If you would like to advertise any upcoming opportunities, please let us know via email.
A great opportunity has arisen for researchers to publish within The International Journal of Human Resource Management’s Special Issue on Human Resource Management & Employing Service Leavers, Reservists and Veterans.
This special issue aims to explore:
  • Employers’ perceptions of Service leavers and Reservists
  • HRM interventions which can support Service leavers and Reservists in work, in particular in relation to the transition from military to civilian work either permanently or between civilian and Reservist roles.
  • How military skills are matched with the needs of, and utilised by, employers
  • HRM policies and practices to support employers in reconciling civilian work with armed services.
For more information, click here
'Sharing War Memories' Conference Call
Le Mans University are calling for papers for their conference being held on 22nd June - 24th June 2021 titled 'Sharing War Memories - From the Military to the Civilian'.

Submission deadline: 30th January 2021

For more information, click
here
*JOB OPPORTUNITY* Research Associate
Newcastle University are recruiting for a Research Associate to contribute to an ESRC funded project. 
This research explores 'conflict' as a fluid complex of violence which plays out not only in far-away battle sites but also in intimate domestic spaces and personal relationships.

For more information, click
here or contact the PI: Alice Cree, alice.cree@newcastle.ac.uk
Supporting our Community...
Are you a trained therapist? Catrin Davies, a trainee Clinical Psychologist at Bath University is carrying out a study around post-traumatic stress disorder and would like therapists to take part.

For further details, take a look at the recruitment poster. If you would like to take part, please email Catrin at cmd44@bath.ac.uk 
*CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS* Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Salford are looking for participants for their study, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust.

The study aims to understand the transition to civilian life for ex-service personnel with physical conditions as a direct result of service, or acquired whilst in service.

For further details, take at look at the recruitment poster, or contact Dr Celia Hynes at chynes1@uclan.ac.uk or Dr Cormac Lawler at c.lawler1@salford.ac.uk 
*CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS* The Veterans and Families Institute (VFI) at Anglia Ruskin University are carrying out a project surrounding RN/RM service leavers and their transition to civilian life.

For more information, take a look at the recruitment poster, or contact the lead researcher - nick.caddick@aru.ac.uk 
#DefResChat: Veterans and Families, Heath and Wellbeing
With this month's #TwitterHour taking place on Armistice Day, we wanted to connect people to share thoughts, experiences and advice related but not limited to veterans and wellbeing. Many thanks to those who joined us and shared their views and tips on how to maintain our health.

Q2) What words does being an Armed Forces veteran make you think about? And why?
  • Yes, the word 'veteran' is not one I feel comfortable with, 'ex-military' is what I usually say. I associate 'veteran' more with America and the 'thank you for your service' culture and I just don't think of me when I hear the term.
  • Hidden. Because not all veterans even self-identify as veterans.
  • And self-identification matters when we have things like the new Veteran's Railcard in the UK.
  • I agree, so many different experiences even among those who fought in the same conflict from the same regiment, company, or platoon! I am a 'veteran' of Afghanistan, but compared to those who fought in the world wars our experiences couldn't be more different!
Q3) What is well-being and how do we maintain our wellbeing?
  • Wellbeing can mean a thousand different things but for me it is keeping busy, having a good support network and a purpose in life.
  • Wellbeing is tricky, would say no agreed operational definition but for me, includes a state of optimal physical and mental health function that does not impede on daily life #wellbeing.
  • Wellbeing to me is family and friends. On operations the letters and care packages were vital. The continuing support from my wife over the 8 years since I left the army on my uni journey have kept me sane. Playing with my son eases the traumas I read all day for work.
As usual, our chat brought attention to a number of brilliant resources on the subject: 
  •  As part of @documentaltheat 's #WhereTo week, we saw some wonderful videos exploring veterans' lived experiences, particularly Fighting women by @hannah_r_west and @chaffmightfly (picutred above) and These Hands by @LucyBell (you can watch the videos below).
  • ‘‘Are You a Veteran?’’ Understanding of the Term ‘‘Veteran’’ among UK Ex-Service Personnel, A Research Note
Keep your eyes peeled on our website for the next #DefResChat, and don't forget to check for more info on Twitter and our website.

You can also find all our previous #DefResChats on the Archive section of our
website.
Make sure to tag @DefenceResNet and hashtag #DefResChat to join the conversation.
Find Out More
Fighting Women by Hannah and Tim West tells the hidden stories of women war veterans from the conflict in Northern Ireland.
These Hands by Lucy Bell explores the veteran experience through storytelling.
What we're reading...
In Conversation 
This month we have been chatting to Dr Nick Caddick. Dr Caddick is a Senior Research Fellow and Deputy director of the Veterans and Families Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford campus.
  • What are you currently working on? 
I’m about to start a really exciting Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project called ‘Stories in Transition’; working with three unique military charities to explore how veterans are using the arts, culture and sport to help them transition to civilian life. Part of the project involves documentary filmmaking as a way for veterans – as peer-researchers – to become authors of their own transition narratives, rather than slotting into the pre-defined stories told about them in the press and by government and academia. It’s a big multi-disciplinary, multi-institution and multi-partner project and I can’t wait to get started on it. Aside from that, I’m also working on my first book ‘The Cultural Politics of Veterans’ Narratives’ for the Advances in Critical Military Studies series (co-edited by Sarah Bulmer and Victoria Basham) with Edinburgh University Press. In the book I’m exploring the moral and political work performed by the stories veterans tell about war and military life, and arguing that we need better ways of listening and responding to these stories. It feels like a really big undertaking but I’m trying hard to keep making steady progress with it!
  • What was your path to where you are now?
My path is probably best described as winding. I started off as a sport and exercise science undergraduate, and from there gravitated towards psychology. I ended up doing a Graduate Diploma in psychology before studying a masters in sport and exercise psychology at Loughborough University. I then started my doctorate looking at veterans’ stories of surfing as a means of dealing with post-traumatic stress. That was a fascinating project (not least because I got to go surfing for my PhD), and sparked an interest for me in working with veterans. Around the time I finished my PhD, I learned of the Veterans and Families Institute (VFI) starting up at Anglia Ruskin University. I applied for a job as a Research Fellow and joined about a year after it started, when we were still a very small research institute. So I’ve been with the VFI almost from the beginning and watched and helped it grow from 2015 onwards. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some wonderful colleagues there, and there is a real focus on doing excellent research. We’ve been fairly successful in getting funded to do various bits of research, which has helped us to grow and attract more research staff. I’m currently senior research fellow and deputy director of the institute, and I’m enjoying the challenge of leading bigger projects and mentoring junior colleagues. I’m no longer a ‘psychologist’ though, and have come to feel far more at home in sociology, and lately politics/IR.
  • What are you currently reading and is it any good?
I’ve got a lot of books on the go at the moment, as I can never seem to stick with one at a time; there always seems to be so much relevant material it’s hard to prioritise. A lot of the stuff I read is to inform the book project I’m working on. I’m currently part way through David Olusoga’s ‘The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers of Empire’, which definitely challenges common assumptions of who ‘British veterans’ are imagined to be in a historical context. I’m reading Afua Hirsch’s book ‘Brit(ish): On race, identity and belonging’, as part of a wider effort to figure out how veterans’ stories fit into our frayed sense of national belonging and culture. I’ve recently finished Kate McLoughlin’s book ‘Veteran poetics: British literature in the Age of Mass warfare, 1790-2015’ for an understanding of literary treatment of ‘the veteran’. It’s a little outside my disciplinary comfort zone but I enjoyed it. Soon I’m also hoping to open my copy of Catherine Baker’s edited volume ‘Making war on bodies: Militarisation, aesthetics and embodiment in international politics’ – which has such a varied and exciting contents page I’m really eager to get to it after I’ve finished some of the above. 
  • How are you finding working from home?
I’m fortunate enough to have a decent office space at home so it’s not been too bad. I know colleagues that have struggled to create a peaceful home working environment, and it has been really tough. I miss my colleagues, having not seen any of them face-to-face since March. I also miss working in the library on occasion, and my walk home at the end of the day. Normally that’s my chance to unwind before launching into playtime, dinnertime and bedtime with the kids. Now that happens as soon as I power down my laptop! 
  • What advice would you give to PhD students and early career researchers that you wish someone had said to you?
I think I underestimated the importance of having a vision/mission for my career at the outset. By that I mean a strong sense of what are the key ideas that are shaping my work, and where I want my contribution to sit. That can be really difficult to achieve for an early career researcher when fixed term contracts seem to be the norm (a very problematic situation for ECRs and academia in general). It took me a while to figure out what my career vision/contribution was going to be. I suppose that was a journey that defined the ECR period of my career. I’m emerging out of that now, and have developed a clearer idea of what I want to do in academia.   
  • Who have been the most influential academics on your professional career?
There have been a few that really stand out. Brett Smith was an incredible mentor during my five years at Loughborough University. He taught me to embrace the notion of ‘scholarship’ in an academic environment where the institutional pressures and demands often work contrary to that ideal. I miss our informal chats in the Swan in the Rushes; they were often as helpful as the formal supervisory process. Theoretically, Arthur Frank has been a big influence on my career. His creative and innovative thought on narrative has consistently nurtured my own thinking and research. I’ve also found an extremely supportive community of like-minded scholars within Critical Military Studies (CMS), who provide a vital source of challenge and debate. There are a lot of people helping to build networks and generate ideas, and whilst CMS isn’t ‘led’ by any one academic, Victoria Basham has certainly done a lot to support people like myself working in this area. 
Want to go back and read last month's interview? You can! We are cataloguing all of our In Conversation pieces separately on our website. If you know someone interesting who would be willing to take part in our In Conversation series, please let us know via email. 
*NEW BOOKS* Whether you are stuck for Christmas presents or just looking to treat yourself this November, we've got some great new additions for the bookshelf...
Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day
By Captain Tom Moore

Captain Thomas Moore, a Second World War veteran, came into prominence earlier this year, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to his determination to raise money for the NHS. In his autobiography, he shares his both military and non-military experience, and his life story is inspiring.
You can buy a copy 
here.
Veterans of the First World War:Ex-Servicemen and Ex-Servicewomen in Post-War Britain and Ireland
By David Swift and Oliver Wilkinson
On a more academic front, this new edited book focuses on veterans of the First World War. It looks at the political, social and cultural dynamics of the topic, including the gendered specificities of post-war veteran activities and experiences. It covers themes such as the emergence of the FWW veterans’ organisations, families associations, working-class culture and many more.
You can buy a copy 
here. 
Pause for thought...

"This is about optimisation of self. This is about being the best you can be. This is about gaining an advantage, whether facing an opponent or overcoming a challenging situation. This is about building resilience that will match that of most world class athletes and prepare you for every day stress. To be HeadFIT, is to be at your peak performance."

Earlier this year, the Duke of Sussex backed a
new mental fitness tool which aimed to aid the military enhance mental wellbeing. Supported by The Royal Foundation and the Ministry of Defence, HeadFIT is a brilliant online tool which helps us monitor and manage our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours to leave us feeling mentally fit. However, it is important to question what it actually means to be well, and does this always correlate with an 'optimised' or 'peak' performance?

What do you think? Let us know on Twitter!
Thank you so much for joining our network.

Have you recently won an award, had your paper published, launched a book or are you organising an event? We want to hear from you! We are always looking for new content for our newsletter and would love to showcase the great work of our members.


For queries, more information, or just to tell us about yourself, don't hesitate to contact us on Twitter @DefenceResNet or at defenceresearchnetwork@gmail.com 

The DRN team 
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