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Elder, Glen H., Jr.; Gimbel, Cynthia; & Ivie, Rachel L. (1991). Turning Points in Life: The Case of Military Service and War. Military Psychology, 3(4), 215-231.


Military service creates discontinuity in men's lives by removing them from age-graded careers and subjecting them to the dictates of a world in which one's past or life history has no importance. How do men view their military service during their later years? Is military service recalled as an experience that subjectively influences different parts of their life course? Using four long-term longitudinal samples of American men born between 1904 and 1930, this article examines the extent t o which military service (from 1940 to 1955, including World War 11) represented subjective turning points in their lives. Military service specifically, rather than war generally, was recalled as the life-changing experience. The probability of perceiving military service as a life-course turning point was significantly influenced by entry at a relatively young age, by membership in a family that suffered hardship during the Depression, and by a successful military career. Men in this study were most likely to define past events as turning points when those events had positive effects and were perceived to cause substantial change in their lives, including occupational change.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Military Psychology


Elder, Glen H., Jr.
Gimbel, Cynthia
Ivie, Rachel L.