Transition barriers : a narrative case study of military life and the impact of trauma.


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Veterans face visible and non-visible challenges during and after transitioning out of the military. Challenges like combat trauma, deployment fatigue, mental illness, and a lack of proactive transitional resources often contribute to post-career struggles. This qualitative case study provides a deeper understanding of those challenges and identifies the common barriers veterans experience, such as poor leadership, to explain how these barriers impact mental health. The research questions were designed to understand how specific military struggles manifested into mental illness and affected individual members of a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) support group. The group is located in a suburb, approximately 25 minutes north of a prominent Texas metropolitan city. The study population consisted of 13 veteran participants who served in different combat and non-combat roles across different eras. I performed a qualitative case study to learn about the intrinsic emotional impact of military service. I wanted to offer the participants an opportunity to tell their unfiltered military narrative. To perform this study, I collected data through four primary methods: field observations, focus group discussions, a Likert survey, and individual semi-structured interviews. Through these data collection methods and research analysis, this qualitative case study developed new strategies to facilitate the implementation of new programs to assist veterans in all phases of service but, more importantly, post-transition. The study revealed that many veterans experience difficulty during and after transition because the current resources offered by the military do not effectively address the importance of mental health. Mental health in the military is still a prevalent issue because it continues to be negatively stigmatized, and these harmful misconceptions frequently create barriers to treatment. These barriers, ineffective military leadership, and a toxic military culture were common themes that participants stated discouraged them from seeking treatment or advocating for help because they did not feel supported. The implications of this study highlight a direct need for improved transition and mental health resources to assist veterans in navigating life changes.