COMING HOME: a narrative exploration of parent experiences in the Post 9/11-era veteran community reintegration process

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Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
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community reintegration
Post 9/11
military families
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Social Work
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COMING HOME: a narrative exploration of parent experiences in the Post 9/11-era veteran community reintegration process Michael Callahan, MSW, LCSW Dissertation Chair: Irene Wong, PhD BACKGROUND: For many Post 9/11-era service members, their home of record and parents will be the first space and persons assisting their transitions to civilian life through a process known as community reintegration (CR). Parents of Post 9/11-era veterans report encountering many challenges in supporting their veteran child during the CR process. This study explored the parenting strategies and coping mechanisms developed by parents of Post-9/11 veterans, the resources they accessed to support that process, and determined characteristics that impact the parent’s experience of CR. METHODS: This study employed a qualitative approach using the processes and procedures of narrative inquiry during data collection, analysis, and interpretation of findings. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted via Zoom with individuals who self-identified as parents of a Post 9/11-era veterans. RESULTS: Concepts related to understanding the parent of a veteran identity, the CR process, resource seeking behaviors, and meaningful connections and parent-child relationship seeking emerged from the data. These insights revealed ways in which the CR process can be transformative for established parent/child relationships. Themes uncovered during data analysis included perceptions of parent identity, the concept of home, relationship with adult veteran child, community connection, growth through re-attachment, and significance of service. DISCUSSION: Research findings suggest the need for culturally appropriate and community-grounded psychoeducational support groups for parents of Post 9/11-era veterans to mitigate psychosocial and psychoeducational challenges associated with CR. Interventions related to parent understanding of military culture and veteran resources, culturally appropriate supportive resources, and community building should be considered to address the challenges and opportunities of the CR process. In areas where access to professional treatment is limited, telehealth options should be considered to assist parents.

Irene Wong, PhD
Shakira Espada-Campos, DSW, LCSW
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