Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Soldiers-Attitudes, Mental health services-Utilization, Command of troops, Mental health treatment, Mixed methods, Military, Servicemember, Soldier, Stigma, Perception, Leadership, Armed forces, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast guard, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation New Dawn (OND), Iraq, Afghanistan, Military suicides


The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine how combat veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Enduring Freedom believe unit leadership in the military addresses the topic of mental health wellness, and how this may influence their individual perceptions on the issue. The specific research question of the study was, "How do veterans perceive mental health wellness is addressed by unit leadership, and how does this affect their attitudes towards psychological treatment in the military? A total of 107 servicemembers completed an online survey consisting of 13 Likert scale and four open-ended questions that were used to capture their experiences on the topic. Results found that while servicemembers' perceptions vary greatly as to how mental health is handled by unit leadership, up to 40-50% hold a negative view on the matter. This indicates that many servicemembers are receiving mixed messages about mental health, since the military, at an institutional level, has heightened its efforts in addressing issues related to mental health since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Results of this study may help explain why, despite these efforts, many servicemembers do not seek mental health treatment and suicide rates in the military remain at an all-time high. These findings have serious implications on future research, social work practice, and military policy.




iv, 112 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 93-101)

Limited Access until August 2017