Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Soldiers-Psychology, Transitional objects (Psychology), Combat-Psychological aspects, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Adjustment (Psychology), Interpersonal relations-Psychological aspects, Military, Military deployment, Coping, PTSD, Veterans-Mental health-United States, Combat experience


The purpose of this study was to explore how transitional objects are used during and after combat, and whether their use promotes resilience, reduces the effects of combat-related stress, and helps service members with "coming home" from war. The research looked for possible ties between objects with emotional significance that were carried during deployment and the effect the items had on service members' mental health and wellbeing, Sixty-six combat veterans of World War II through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan completed an online survey consisting of multiple-choice, open-ended, and Likert scale questions that were used to capture their experiences with transitional objects. An additional six combat veterans took part in a structured focus group designed to gather more detailed, nuanced perspectives about the role that objects played for these veterans. Results indicate that the majority of veterans carried a special possession during combat and found it to be soothing or psychologically helpful in times of stress. Service members who used an object found it was more useful during their transition into combat than during their return home. Participants who did not carry an object stated they wanted to keep home and work separate, or did not feel the need to bring something along for comfort. Most survey participants indicated they have positive feelings when they think about their object today, while one-third indicated that the object is no longer important to them. Suggestions for future research were given, as well as implications for clinical practice with veterans and military couples.




iv, 116 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 80-87)