26.3. Warexperiences and well-being of veterans

Public examination of a doctoral dissertation in the field of Social Work
Doctoral candidate: Lic.Soc.Sc. Sirpa Korhonen
Time and venue 26.3.2011 at 12 noon, L21, Snellmania, Kuopio Campus

This is a social scientific study on the lives of male veterans involved in the Finnish wars of 1939-1945 and on their well-being in 1993 and 2006. The aim of the study is to increase knowledge on veterans´ warexperiences, well-being and their experiences of insecurity. The specific research problems of the study are to study: 1) veterans´ warexperiences in narratives and to assess their experiences of insecurity and means of coping during the wars and the follow-up period and 2) the well-being of veterans and services. It is committed to the theoretical thinking on welfare and insecurity and to studies on gerontological social work. This study belongs to the continuum of studies on Finnish war veterans.

The data of this study combining quantitative and qualitative research approaches consists of 45 veterans “from the generation of war and shortage” from the Finnish district of Northern Savo. Of the veterans, 16 were wounded and/or fell permanently ill at the front. They were interviewed in their homes during the follow-up years 1993 and 2005–2006. In addition, the narrative data, consisting of war experiences and life narratives recorded at the turn of the millennium in an effort to conserve tradition yielded information about the life histories of 16 veterans and the influence of the wars on their lives. Information about veterans´ living conditions, social relationships and hobbies was elicited through the lens of welfare theory. In the social work assessment, the main interest was in the veterans´ need for help and services.

Research findings show that the veterans researched in 2006 had largely retained their functioning ability; they were satisfied with their lives and felt secure. However, during the follow-up period, their state of health had deteriorated, and they had come more into the sphere of social services. The decline in their functioning capacity was seen in diminished engagement in things and interests outside the home, likewise in the need for daily help. Further, living alone was more common due to widowment. Those veterans who were unhappy with their lives were the ones living alone and feeling lonely. In addition to war disability, their subjective experiences involved war experiences causing some of them dreams and thoughts about the wars. However, time elapsing since the wars has had an adaptive influence on traumatic war experiences.

Welfare and insecurity theories were appropriate to the study of war veterans. The significance of organizations was also emphasized among the veterans thereby supporting Allardt´s (1998) supplement contribution regarding the share of communality in welfare theory.

The doctoral dissertation of Lic.Soc.Sc. Sirpa Korhonen, entitled Warexperiences and well-being of veterans. A follow-up research from experienced the war men from County of Northern Savo in years 1993 and 2006., will be examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. The opponent in the public examination will be Professor Jari Heinonen of the University of Jyväskylä, and the custos will be Professor Sari Rissanen of the University of Eastern Finland.

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Publishing year: 2011

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