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Katherine E. Evarts, Psy.D., is a 2017 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Martha Straus, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Barbara Belcher-Timme, Psy.D., Committee Member
  • Susan Hawes, Ph.D., Committee Member

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2017

Abstract

The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) banned legally-supported discrimination against United States (US) military personnel who identify with sexual minority identities, but has the repeal also had an impact on gender and sexual minority veteran and military personnel comfort with disclosing such identities to Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health providers? The current research illuminates veteran and military personnel perspectives about this possible shift in VA mental health care culture, as well as about ways that such disclosure could be further facilitated in order to improve the care provided. US veterans who identify with sexual minority identities have multiple, intersecting identities that put them at higher risk for mental health disorders than their non-minority veteran peers (Cochran, 2001). The literature surrounding the Minority Stress Model (MSTM; Meyer, 2003) comprises the conceptual framework from which this research can be more cogently understood. MSTM posits that concealment of a gender or sexual minority identity, among other factors, is a major stressor for individuals with such identities (Meyer, 2003). Eliciting veteran and active military personnel perspectives with an online survey, this study identified and explored themes associated with current levels of comfort with disclosure of gender or sexual minority identities to VA mental health care providers. Within a phenomenological methodology, the current study used thematic analysis procedures for analyzing the qualitative data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The data were then presented and explored using Thematic Networks (Attride-Stirling, 2001). Descriptive and qualitative analyses revealed that, while many participants have seen a substantial change in culture and comfort, many others still experience discrimination. Implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are explored.

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Katherine E. Evarts

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0002-1612-592X

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