Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Families of military personnel-Interviews, Iraq War, 2003- Veterans-Family relationships, Iraq War, 2003- Veterans-Mental health, Afghan War, 2001- Veterans-Family relationships, Afghan War, 2001- Veterans-Mental health, Adjustment (Psychology), Stress (Psychology), Combat-Psychological aspects, OIF, OEF, Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, Military families


This qualitative study explores the stressors and readjustment issues experienced by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from the perspective of loved ones. A review of the literature on veterans' experiences is vast; however there is little literature that discusses the stressors from the perspective of a loved one. This study examines the "common" post-combat stressors, psychosocial issues, and mental illnesses impacting combat veterans in the words and observations of those closest to them. Twelve loved ones of veterans of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan participated in this study, providing narrative data based on their veterans' deployment experiences. Open-ended interviews were conducted to better gain access to loved ones' emotions, memories and thoughts, which often added illuminating insight to the study's findings. Findings from the study reveal an equal split between those veterans who have experienced stressors and readjustment issues and those who have not; the impact of these concerns on veterans' families is also explored. Specifically, study participants mentioned issues related to mental illness (including PTSD, depression and anxiety) and their ongoing stigma, relationship problems, unemployment, financial concerns, problems with the military (including command leadership and inadequate training), and problems navigating the VA and its services. Those who did not experience readjustment issues mentioned family, religion, friends and school as sources of strength. Suggestions for further research are discussed as a means to ease the adjustments for service members and their families – particularly National Guard and Reserve members – throughout the entire deployment process.




iv, 113 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 94-100)