Date of Conferral







Benita Stiles-Smith


This qualitative phenomenological research focused on the resilience of 10 veterans transitioning back to civilian life. An increase in suicide rates among veterans over the last 10 years has become a major concern for the U.S. Congress and Department of Defense (DoD). The theoretical frameworks guiding the study are Durkheim’s suicide theory, Lindenberg and Frey’s social production function theory, and Diener’s deindividuation theory. Many veterans have no self-awareness of their need for psychological and transitional assistance, leaving them vulnerable during a time of potentially increased and unfamiliar stress. Understanding the need for effective psychological adjustment and resilience in military members and veterans is an important part of maintaining wellbeing and of suicide prevention. The research questions guiding this study examined the lived experiences of veterans transitioning from military to civilian life and benefits and challenges some veterans have when transitioning back to civilian life. Interviews were conducted with 10 African American veterans. Findings from veterans stressed the importance of having transitional assistance and personal support during transition from military to civilian life for successful coping and maneuvering through challenges of a different culture and lifestyle. The results from this study may advance knowledge for developing effective programs and interventions to increase resilience and decrease suicide in veterans transitioning out of the military to civilian life.