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Jennifer Hunter, Ph.D. is a 2017 graduate fo the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D, Committee Chair
  • Tony Lingham, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Deborah Johnson Hayes, Psy.D., LCSW, MPH, Committee Member

Author Introduction Video accompanies this Dissertation


military spouses, caregivers, PTSD, TBI, family members, polytrauma triad, secondary traumatic stress, veterans, narrative inquiry, lived expriences, Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Hidden Heroes, posttraumatic, wives, brain injury

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This research focused on the lived experiences of fourteen military caregiving wives whose husbands were wounded, ill, or injured in a post-9/11 combat theater of war. All wives in this study had been vetted by and appointed to the Elizabeth Dole Military Caregiving Fellows Program and were either actively involved in the Fellowship or had become recent alumni of the two-year commitment at the time of this study. The purpose of this study was to provide a platform for their voices, understand their hopes, struggles, successes, and failures, and to give honor to their stories of military caregiving through the qualitative methodology of narrative inquiry. The stories as data were analyzed in two distinct ways. The first was using a plot analysis that exposed the story lines of the caregivers from the moment of their husbands’ final deployment home to the present day, ranging from three to 13 years post onset. Using eight plot line elements, the arc of the story lines revealed one continuous story that was consistent among all caregivers, yet highly nuanced and unique. Thematic analysis was conducted as the second way of looking at the data. Moving dynamically along the flow of the story line, topical themes and their subthemes deepened the understanding and sense making the caregivers expressed at each stage of their evolution, providing the thematic road map of each journey. It was within this roadmap that a holistic picture emerged of the wives’ journey through the emergent themes beginning with hope, to their own unraveling, to disillusionment with self, other, and the system, to the factors that eventually allowed them to turn toward a more empowered self, and finally, to the paradigm shift that ultimately allowed for transformative, inspired action. This dissertation is accompanied by the author’s MP4 video introduction. The electronic version of this dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Jennifer A. Hunter Ph.D.

ORCID Scholar ID #

Jennifer has spent the majority of her professional life weaving between two professions.

As a licensed clinical social worker, she was at the forefront of working with in-patient traumatically brained injured young adults on rehabilitation units. Taking her expertise out into the corporate world, she spent many years developing and executing sub-acute rehabilitation programs for traumatically brained injured young adults who were too physically unstable to return home, but had met discharge criteria from acute hospital care.

As a speech-language pathologist, she has been committed to helping very young children through difficult stages of speech and language acquisition, while coaching their parents on how to raise their children through difficult times with skill, confidence, wisdom, and loving kindness.

This dissertation is a gift of gratitude to her father who flew as a 14th Air Force Flying Tiger in the China Theater during WWII.

Hunter_Dissertation_Intro_.mp4 (29644 kB)
Hunter Author Introduction Video