This study explored the journey of American armed forces personnel from their decision to join the service, through their service in an active military conflict and how these factors may be associated with potential resistance for mental healthcare. The data came from qualitative interviews with 46 OIF/OEF/OND active-duty military, reservists, and discharged veterans of the average age of 25 years, who presented for a new episode of mental health treatment to a large Veterans Affairs Hospital (VAH) in Northeastern United States in 2011–2012. Qualitative analysis of veterans’ perceptions revealed several major themes describing how a mental health diagnosis would negatively impact both their sense of identity and pragmatic career-building goals: enlisting as a career-building avenue, ‘noble superhero’ identity, escaping from hardship, and mental illness as a career-killer. Findings suggest that factors making young veterans resist mental healthcare may be reduced by partnering VAH psychiatrists with career counselors, and by enhancing military leadership’s awareness and understanding about how to support soldiers with emotional and mental health needs, with a goal to eliminating stigma.
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 13, 2015
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