Reintegration into Civilian Life among Returning Veterans: The Roles of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Stressor Exposure
Ma, Kit Ying
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This study examined the roles of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cumulative exposure to pre-deployment physical and/or sexual trauma and combat trauma in predicting reintegration difficulties faced by a sample of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans. Schlossberg’s Transition Model was used as the conceptual framework to support the study on seven outcomes in four functional domains: (a) interpersonal functioning in terms of post-deployment social support, (b) vocational functioning in terms of difficulty obtaining employment, job loss, and current employment status, (c) current legal problems, (d) current substance use in terms of alcohol use and cannabis use. Following approval from Institutional Review Boards and permission from the Veterans Affairs Principal Investigator, this study analyzed pertinent data from the Deployment Risk and Resilience Inventory Dataset that was created via medical record review of 1,740 OEF/OIF veterans. Hierarchical multiple and logistic regression analyses were conducted to test two hypotheses. Results on the entire sample (N = 1,198), firstly, indicated that PTSD was significantly associated with lower post-deployment social support and a greater likelihood of job loss, current legal problems, and current alcohol use, even after statistically controlling for age, gender, and depressive disorders. Second, cumulative exposure to pre-deployment physical and/or sexual trauma and combat trauma did not predict any of the functional outcomes among veterans with PTSD (n = 322), after statistically controlling for age, gender, and depressive disorders. Implications for research, practice, and policy as well as limitations of the study are discussed. Recommendations are also provided.