Date of Conferral
Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
Military personnel who have served during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn have experienced longer and more frequent deployments than U.S. personnel involved in any previous conflict. These multiple tours in combat zones have resulted in complex psychosocial needs for military personnel. The goal of this action research study was to understand social workers' perceptions and experiences of military personnel who experienced 3 or more deployments in a combat zone. The theoretical foundation for the study was narrative theory. Research questions sought to understand the social workers' perceptions of the psychosocial treatment needs of these veterans, to understand the social workers' experiences in providing services to address their needs, and whether participants perceived that the services provided were enhancing the mental and social well-being of the veterans. Data were collected from a focus group of 8 master's-degree-level social workers who worked with veterans with multiple deployments. Data were analyzed using descriptive coding to determine categories and themes. Findings included increased incidents of posttraumatic stress disorder and complex psychosocial needs, the importance of evidence-based practice and successful reintegration, clinical considerations, and potential barriers to effective service. Findings also focused on the importance of organizational support and continuing education for social workers providing these services. The findings of this study might be used to promote positive social change by highlighting the need for ongoing education for social workers, organizations, and society to provide informed evidence-based treatment for veterans who have experienced multiple deployments.