Title

A Path Analysis of Military Cultural Factors Contributing to Suicidal Behavior in the OEF/OIF/OND Veteran

Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Child and Family Studies

Advisor(s)

D. Bruce Carter

Keywords

military, suicide, veterans

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

This study investigated suicidal ideology of military personnel as they transitioned from active duty to veteran status. The objective of my study was to identify key variables found within military cultural environments that potentiated the possibility of suicidal behavior. Path analysis was used to determine possible military cultural factors that may influence a clinical suicidal assessment in veterans post-deployment. This study sequentially randomly examined 151 post-deployed OEF/OIF/OND veteran surveys via the OEF/OIF/OND Post-Deployment VA Screening tool for post-deployment challenges. Hypothesis 1: Higher affinity to military culture post-deployment as defined through the three transitional factors of reintegration would lead to increased post-deployment suicidal gestures. This research initially proposed three transitional factors of reintegration that worked in tandem to create a more synergistic model of post-deployment reintegration, military-related suicidal descriptors, and markers that indicated a challenging or successful reintegration from post-deployed military life to civilian life (Dirkzwager et al., 2005; Figley, 2005; Margolin et al., 2005; Resnik et al., 2011; Taft et al., 2008). Three factors were developed through variables that were associated with the factor name: military stressors, coping and suicidal gestures. Hypothesis 2: Veterans who reported increased stressors with reintegration would be more likely to have higher assessment scores and be at higher risk for suicidal gestures. Results supported the hypothesis of military culture influencing factors of reintegration. The three-factors were military stressors, coping and suicide. This research further demonstrated a positive correlation between military cultural factors remaining after deployment and the veterans' ability to transition into civilian communities. This research generated an increased understanding of military culture and the transitional process from active duty to civilian life that may hold the key to a more predictive understanding of suicide and suicidal behaviors in the United States OEF/OIF/OND veteran population.

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