From blue star to gold star : the impact of an identity before and after a soldier’s suicide
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An individual is comprised of inherent and acquired identity traits. These traits create a fluid identity that is shaped by outside factors, experiences, and social memberships. This identity is crystallized, multi-faceted and ever-changing. Defining characteristics will evolve and create changes to an individual's identity. Soldiers and combat veterans are exposed to a variety of experiences, to include combat, which often changes and defines a new identity for that individual. Recent research reveals the fluidity of an identity for military members transitioning from combat to peace time operations may be a factor regarding the increased numbers of soldier and veteran suicides. Additionally, after a soldier or veteran takes their life, the identity of family members left behind instantly changes, adapting to pressure from internal and external factors. Identities are unique to the individual and the circumstances they have experienced in their lifetime. Understanding how external factors cause an identity to evolve and change will create awareness for soldiers and veterans that are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and for family members that are left behind to rebuild after the loss of a loved one.