Combat experiences and post-deployment adjustment




Sensiba, David Philip

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David Philip Sensiba, PhD

The University of Texas at Austin, 2019

Supervisor: Dr. Cynthia Franklin and Dr. Kirk von Sternberg

Abstract: The United States of America has been a nation constantly at war for almost two decades. This has resulted in military families being separated from their service member for significant periods of time due combat deployments, which can potentially have a negative impact on the family system. During deployments, service members can be exposed to various combat experiences, which research has linked to symptoms of post traumatic stress, depression, and problematic alcohol use that develop post deployment. It is estimated that approximately 20% of soldiers in combat units return home with symptoms of behavioral health problems or develop these symptoms within three to six months following the deployment. Family reintegration can negatively be impacted when service members return home from a combat deployment and/or experience behavioral health concerns. By contrast, research has also indicated that healthy social supports, such as families and friends, can mitigate the development and/or aid the recovery of behavioral health concerns. This study investigates the relationship between combat exposure and marriage quality, and their impact on the behavioral health outcomes reported immediately following the deployment and four months post deployment. Additionally, utilizing the lens of the family system theory, the study examines the moderating effect that marriage quality has on the relationship between combat exposure and reported behavioral health symptoms. This study was a secondary data analysis using Hierarchical Multiple Regression. Both combat exposure and marriage quality were found to influence the development of behavioral health outcomes. In this study, marriage quality did not moderate the relationship between combat exposure and reported behavioral health symptoms.



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