military dogtags with the American flag behind

Military Personnel Project

The Military Personnel Project focuses on Americans' military service from the mid-20th century to the present. We are looking at the changing demographics of military personnel, our nation’s support and treatment of service people, and the impact the military has had on people’s lives. To answer these questions, we interviewed men and women who have served in any branch of the armed forces and in any war with U.S. involvement since World War II, and people who have been involved at home, such as family members of military personnel, veterans' rights activists, and medical, religious, and educational professionals who provide services to veterans. 

We have asked about people's experiences with military service; the effect of this service on families; the support that local communities and the nation have given to military personnel and their families; and about veterans’ re-integration into civilian society. We are also interested learning about the lives of the increasing number of women and people of the LGBT community who have been enlisting in the regular forces, Reserves, and National Guard since 1973.

Why Military Personnel

Our project as a whole is particularly interested in exploring issues from the vantage point of  Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois. The U of I has historically been a leader in ensuring higher education for veterans with disabilities and so we thought that special insight could be gained from this topic given it's history. 

For veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, reintegration has been complicated not only by the long-term economic recession but also by combat-related injuries including post-traumatic stress disorder that affect many service people today.
With this project, we hope to raise awareness about the experiences of service members across several generations as well as veterans’ efforts to educate civilian society about their situation and needs.

The Team

The project is coordinated by Uni High social studies teacher, Janet Morford and led by Uni High seniors Sunjay Koshy and Leif Hague. Look at our Team Members page for more about the team. 

Contact Us

If you want to learn more about our project, please contact Janet Morford.


November 27, 2012

Rough Editing - Completed!

Sherry Qiu

We have recently finished the rough editing of the interviews. During the rough editing process, we isolate the most interesting stories from each interview and cut out the rest of the material, leaving short silences in between each story. Later, we put these stories together and form the radio documentary. We each ended up with somewhere around 20 to 30 stories from our assigned interviews.

February 15, 2012

Team Member Simone Gewirth Bio

Hi, my name is Simone and I am a freshman at University High school. This is my second year working with the oral history projects. Last year I conducted interviews on the Counterculture project and this year is my first as an intern working on the Military personnel project. Some of my hobbies are swimming, reading, and backpacking.
I think I was drawn to the oral history project because of all the unique things you learn, just from listening to someone tell their life story. Each person has had different experiences and has unique views and opinions to share. One thing I really enjoy about this project is that you can get insight onto a topic that you might never hear about first hand again in your lifetime! Having to think about the way in which all this information can be shared with the public and compiled into a documentary is great because it forces you to stretch your mind -- to ask questions, which is always something everyone should do more of!

February 15, 2012

Team Member Janet Morford Bio

Janet Morford is the faculty sponsor for this and other Uni High oral history projects.  As part of her teaching assignment in social studies at Uni, she gets to spend several months each year working on a new project with her current crop of subfreshmen (7th/8th graders). She also has the pleasure of working year-round with two or more teams of high school interns, who are responsible for turning the younger students' interviews on a topic into a radio documentary.

As the "Military Personnel" project has taken shape, Janet has been fascinated to discover the many ways in which the armed forces -- as institutions -- have inspired, mirrored or lagged behind broader shifts in American society.  Such parallels are evident in the processes of racial desegregation (in and outside of the military), the opening of greater opportunities for women (in and outside of the military), the recognition of the civil rights of people who are openly gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer (in and outside of the military), just to mention a few.

As a civilian who has had little personal exposure to the realities of military service, Janet has been grateful to hear so many different stories of the sacrifices and service rendered by men and women across the generations since the 1940s.  She is thankful to the countless Americans who have served our country in many different ways, and in particular, to the sixteen individuals who not only served or made other sacrifices on behalf of the nation, but also agreed to share their stories with us for this project.

⇒ All Blog Entries

More on Military Personnel Project

outline of three people


Meet the people who produced this project

outline of a diamond


Meet our project partners