Date of Conferral





Human Services


Tina Jaeckle


With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan lasting over a decade, hundreds of military mental health providers have deployed to hostile environments and some on multiple occasions. Military mental healthcare providers can experience symptoms of acute and chronic stress resulting from exposures to horrific events while caring for soldiers in a deployed environment. Indeed, in treating these soldiers, clinicians may continue to experience the same traumatic events as their clients. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand and describe shared trauma and resilience for military mental health professionals who have deployed. The concept of shared trauma was defined as the experiences providers faced as they attempted to deliver clinical services while simultaneously addressing the same issue within their own lives. The concept of resilience was explored as how stressful situations were interpreted in relation to individuals' overall life experiences. The principle research question for this study examined how military mental health providers described dilemmas faced as they attempted to navigate the personal and professional aspects of shared trauma. This study utilized a purposive sample of 7 military mental health veterans who deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and analyzed using Moustakas's 5 steps of heuristic analysis. Key findings indicated participants' interpretations of experiences involved posttraumatic growth, lessons learned, and changes in belief systems. Findings of this study can assist military mental health leaders in developing support and protection programs to assist this overwhelmed population, ensuring service members receive the proper care they are entitled.