iHistory

Sample Questionnaire

Be sure to ask questions specific to the veteran’s experiences. Your pre-interview can guide your mail interview. Keep your goals in mind: Decide what direction you want to take your documentary and what line of questioning will accomplish your objectives. Also remember that the interview most be 30 minutes or longer, and that you need to use an external microphone to get quality audio.

Specific Questions:

(the Library of Congress would greatly appreciate it if you included these questions at the beginning of your video interview)

• Date and place of the interview.
• What was your rank and branch of service?
• Which wars did you serve in?
• Were you drafted or did you enlist?
• Were you awarded any medals or citations?

General Questions:

1. A Few Biographical Details.
• Where and when veteran was born.
• Family details: parents’ occupations, number and gender of siblings.
• What veteran was doing before entering the service.
• Other family members who served in the military.
• Who the veteran left behind.

2. Early Days of Service.
• If enlistment, why and the reason for choosing a specific branch of service.
• Departure for training camp, early days of training.
• Specialized training, if applicable.
• Adapting to military life: physical regimen, barracks, food, social life.

3. Wartime Service.
• Where veteran served.
• Details of the trip abroad, if applicable.
• First days in the service (for example: enlistment, boot camp, first assignment).
• Action witnessed, or duties away from the front line.
• If applicable, emotions relating to combat – witnessing casualties, destruction.
• If the veteran was a prisoner of war, get details.
• For officers, battle planning and command responsibilities.
• Any injuries the veteran suffered, and the circumstances.
• Friendships formed and camaraderie of service.
• How veteran stayed in touch with family and friends back home; communication from home.
• Recreation or off-duty pursuits.
• Interactions with citizens living near their duty station.

4. War’s End, Coming Home.
• Where veteran was when war ended.
• How he or she returned home.
• Reception by family and community.
• Readjustment to civilian life.
• Contact with fellow veterans over the years; membership in veterans’ organizations.

5. Reflections.
• How wartime experiences affected veteran’s life.
• Life lessons learned from military service.
• How the veteran defines freedom.
• Anything they would like to add not specifically asked in this interview.

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