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Sharon Xuereb


In combat, anger becomes a new baseline and is promoted by peers as an acceptable means of militaristic motivation and coping with the atrocities of war. Unable to reconcile anger upon returning home, some veterans are forced to seek help via nontraditional paths. This interpretative phenomenological study explored the lived experience of male combat veterans who struggled with anger dysregulation issues and sought help from veteran peers on social media. Research questions were developed using the modal model of emotion as a guide for emotional dysregulation. Interviewed participants were invited to share lived experience of anger dysregulation, what help-seeking meant, and how they experienced using social media for management of anger dysregulation. Ten male combat veterans were recruited through snowballing and social media, they were interviewed via Skype. The results of the analyses revealed 7 major themes: emotional distress, shifting identity, reprisal, resistance to formal treatment, emotional reconciliation, social media use, and combat elitism. Participants shared beliefs that current support systems for anger dysregulation were neither fairly implemented nor effective for anger. Further revealed was that social media afforded veterans the opportunity to take advantage of anonymity, engage on their terms, rapidly target peers with similar combat and subsequent anger dysregulation experience, and learn how to rethink and reappraise to reconcile anger. This study contributes to an enhanced scholarly understanding of veterans'€™ nonconventional help-seeking approaches for anger dysregulation. Recommendations are provided to practitioners to support, promote, and be a voice for the voiceless to effect social change by advocating for and defending those who have defended the nation.

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