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Citizenship and Humanisation of the Public Sector

Going back with a mission - pilot (completed)

  • Period: 2019-2021
  • Status: completed

How do return trips contribute to integrating mission related experiences in the (personal) life of a veteran and their families? In this project we aim to answer this question. Our research contributes to building knowledge on the significance of return trips for veterans, their surroundings, and veteran care. 


While there are many assumptions regarding the positive impact of a return visit on a veteran’s quality of life, so far there is no evidence to that effect. This interdisciplinary research examines the impact of return visits to former Yugoslavia on the veterans involved.

Combining psychiatry, (clinical) psychology, humanistic studies, chaplaincy and social work, this interdisciplinary study researches the significance of return visits for the veterans involved. Veterans’ families and home situation are also included. Over a period of 2 years, small groups of veterans will be invited for a supervised 5-day group return visit. 

The acquired knowledge will be used for research into quality of life, to develop ‘best practices’ for return visits, to further develop the theory on meanings of life and moral injury, and to use the knowledge on the impact on the home situation to improve existing treatment programmes. Knowledge on meanings of life and rituals theory are important aspects. The results will also be used to determine the role of return visits in treatment programmes.


Project leader
  • Prof. Eric Vermetten, Leiden University Medical Center; Ministry of Defence; Veterans Institute

Project team

  • Nicole Immler, University of Humanistic Studies
  • Siri Driessen - Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Marrit Woudwijk - University of Humanistic Studies
  • Jeannette van Brenk - University of Humanistic Studies
  • Marco Spies - Dutch Veterans Institute
  • Serge Janssen - Veteran Dutchbat 1
  • Ron Deelen - Bosnia veteran and case coordinator veteran care


  • Leiden University Medical Center 
  • Veterans Institute; Ministry of Defence


LZV, R&D application – Scientific research as part of the Onderzoeksagenda Veteranenzorg Defensie (Research programme Veteran Care).

Also see

Follow-up project: Back with a mission: reconsidering return trips from a relational perspective

Onderzoek naar de betekenis van terugkeerreizen voor veteranen (news item in Dutch)

Infogram-page Back with a mission with team & updates


Nicole Immler (

Interdisciplinary research into the impact and significance of veterans’ return visits to former Yugoslavia, in collaboration with Leiden University Medical Center and the Ministry of Defence (Veterans Institute).