It is the interviewer’s job to make the veteran feel comfortable and to be a good listener. Each interview session will be unique. The following is an outline (not a script) to help the interviewer guide the veteran through the conversation. Tailor the questions as you and the veteran feel would be appropriate.
The interviewer must begin the recording by stating his or her name and organizational affiliation (if any), the veteran’s full name, the date and the general location in which the interview is being conducted. Please do not disclose private information such as home addresses, military serial numbers or Social Security numbers.
Questions Everyone Should Ask
Don't have regrets. Preserve a life story now with our all-time best questions. Interview a loved one or prompt your own personal history. Do it now, and it will be enough.
- Where and when were you born?
- Who are/were your parents and what are/were their occupations?
- Who are/were your siblings? Names and genders? Which, if any, serve/served in the military?
- What were you doing before you entered the service?
Early Days of Service
- In which branch of the military did you serve?
- Did you enlist or were you drafted?
- If you enlisted, why did you choose that specific branch of the military?
- What happened when you departed for training camp and during your early days of training?
- Do you recall your instructors? If so, what were they like?
- Did you receive any specialized training? If so, what?
- How did you adapt to military life, including the physical regimen, barracks, food and social life?
- Where did you serve?
- If you served abroad, what are some memories you have of that experience?
- If you were on the front lines, what combat action did you witness?
- If you were not on the front lines, what were your duties?
- If you saw combat, how did you feel when witnessing casualties and destruction?
- What kinds of friendships and camaraderie did you form while serving, and with whom?
- How did you stay in touch with family and friends back home?
- What did you do for recreation or when you were off-duty?
Related: click here to see our comprehensive list of questions for oral history
War’s End/Coming Home
- Where were you when the war ended?
- How did you return home?
- How were you received by your family and community?
- How did you readjust to civilian life?
- Have you remained in contact with or reunited with fellow veterans? If so, who?
- Are you a member of any veterans’ organizations? If so, which?
- What have you done since separating from the military?
- How did your wartime experiences affect your life?
- What are some life lessons you learned from military service?
- How has your military service impacted your feelings about war and the military in general?
- What message would you like to leave for future generations who will view/hear this interview?
- Is there anything you feel like we haven’t discussed, or should be added to this interview? If so, what?
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