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D. Patricia Tackett is a 2011 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Santa Barbara.

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

Following the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, there has been increased utilization of the Reserve Components (RC) by the military to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Service members in the National Guard and Reserve (NG/R) represent approximately 40% of the forces involved in these conflicts. Current research indicates that NG/R personnel and their families may be at greater risk to deployment stressors than their Active Component counterparts. Estimates for the development of mental health problems including PTSD among returning RC personnel, range as high as 42%. The focus of this study was to advance the identification of factors that minimize the negative effects of experience in a combat environment, and promote healthy reintegration of military personnel back into society. This research examined self-efficacy, social support, and spirituality with regard to their effects on service members' symptoms of PTSD and levels of resilience subsequent to deployment. Self-report questionnaire data were collected from 223 California Army National Guard soldiers between six to eighteen months following their return from Iraq or Afghanistan. Consistent with previous research, findings showed that the level of combat exposure was the most salient factor predictive of PTSD. Self-efficacy had a small positive effect on PTSD, yet social support and spirituality were not significant. When examining the determinants for resilience, higher levels of self-efficacy, social support, and spirituality were associated with higher levels of resilience, although combat exposure retained a negative influence. Significant differences were found between soldiers who were still under a service commitment with eight years or fewer in the military, and those with more than eight years time in service. The results of this study are encouraging for developing programs designed to better prepare NG/R soldiers for deployment. Implications for future research and military training are discussed. An electronic version of this is available in the open-access OhioLink ETD Center, www.ohiolink.edu/etd

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