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Returning vets face 'warring identities' distress
Date:3/6/2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] Much of the research on post-combat mental health of veterans focuses on problems like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression. A paper co-authored by R. Tyson Smith, visiting assistant professor of sociology, takes an even broader snapshot of returning soldiers' mental state by focusing instead on the identity conflict many face when transitioning from soldier to civilian life and how that conflict manifests as mental distress. The paper was published in the January issue of Society and Mental Health.

"You can't really do research on veterans mental health without some kind of dialogue on PTSD, but we're trying to move away from the standard PTSD framework to contextualize the veteran experience and get a more accurate picture of what vets returning from war look like as opposed to just looking at the medical side of things," Smith said.

To get this picture, Smith and co-author Gala True, from the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion in Philadelphia, conducted lengthy interviews with 26 veterans who had recently served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Twelve of the interviews were done with veterans who were not routinely receiving health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and 14 of the interviews were done with veterans who were.

Both Smith and True used a semi-structured interview style consisting of non-directive, open-ended questions such as "Tell me about your experience while deployed," "Whom, if anyone, do you speak to about your war experiences?" and "What, if any, issues have you been dealing with since your return?" Interviews typically lasted several hours and were recorded. The veterans interviewed represented all four branches of the military and all had been deployed at least once in OIF or OEF.

Analyzing the veterans' reported experiences following the interviews, Smith and True n
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Contact: Courtney Coelho
courtney_coelho@brown.edu
401-863-7287
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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