Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Soldiers-United States-Psychology, Women soldiers-United States-Psychology, Resilience (Personality trait), Adjustment (Psychology), Operation Enduring Freedom, 2001- Psychological aspects, Iraq War, 2003- - Psychological aspects, Veterans-Mental health-United States, Veterans, Reintegration, Operation Iraqi Freedom


This qualitative study examines the experiences of veterans and active duty service members who engaged in the current wars termed Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan. The investigation is based on the perspectives of 11 mental health clinicians who work primarily with OEF and OIF veterans in the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) medical facilities and Vet Centers. This study examines resiliency, risk factors, and coping methods utilized by warriors during deployment, in addition to specific questions regarding female service members and soldiers who have been deployed multiple times. The study investigates how warriors cope during reintegration into civilian life with an emphasis on psychosocial stressors, adjustment reactions, mental health symptoms and substance abuse, and perceived barriers to mental health care. The findings of the research showed that social support, connection with loved ones, leadership, and unit cohesion were primary determinants of resiliency in the theater of war. Pre-existing trauma and mental health issues, inadequate military training, lack of recognition and military sexual trauma—specifically for female service members—poor leadership and young age posed as risk factors for mental health and increased challenges post-deployment. The primary struggles during reintegration were: issues with relationships and redefining roles within the family system, financial stress, increased use and abuse of alcohol and drugs, coping with mental health symptoms and behavioral reactions. The primary barrier to care was the stigma attached to receiving mental health services.




iii, 108 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 98-102)