Doctoral Project Abstract
Helping Heal the Invisible Wounds of War
This doctoral project provides the intellectual foundation, in part, for the implementation of a religious ministry in support of non-clinical assistance for veterans and their families. The operational requirements encountered by U. S. service members in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are unusual in many respects. These wars are the first sustained operations for the all-volunteer force. Service members are subjected to multiple deployments with some deployments occurring within 9 months of the previous one. The force composition relies upon the highest density of National Guard and Reserve forces in more than 60 years. Advances in military medicine have resulted in unprecedented wound survival rates that approximate 90 % survivability. Invisible wounds, however, in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder among other mental health issues, are taking a deleterious toll on service members and their families. The symptoms are slow to evolve, oftentimes difficult to observe & categorize and may endure for years. Among the barriers to care is a cultural stigma that discourages properly diagnosed service members from seeking the professional health treatment that they know that they need. Left unresolved the symptoms may reverberate across affected generations. A comprehensive set of factors with potential to promote resilience across the U.S. military has implications and benefits for individual service members, their families, their units and communities. Recovery from war deployment-induced mental health concerns will be considered in light of a healthy spiritual environment.