In contemporary Western, liberal democratic societies, the soldier is frequently regarded as ‘the best of us’, taking on the unlimited liability for the protection and betterment of the whole. In the context of volunteer militaries and distant conflicts, the construction of men (and the universalised masculine citizen) as ‘always-already’ soldiers (or potential soldiers) poses a substantial obstacle to the identification or performance of ‘good’ civilian masculinity – particularly during wartime. The theorisation and articulation of a positive, substantive civilian masculinity, or masculinities, rather than one defined simply by an absence of military service and implication in the collective use of violence, is a central challenge of contemporary politics. As a means of illuminating the complex dynamics of this challenge, this article examines charitable practices of civilian support for the military, and corresponding constructions of masculinity, in the UK during the ‘war on terror’. In doing so, the article demonstrates the ways in which gendered ‘civilian anxiety’, through its connection to citizenship, comes to condition the political possibilities and subjectivities of all those who seek belonging in the liberal political community. The article concludes by arguing for the essentiality of a research programme oriented around ‘civilianness’, and civilian masculinity/ies.