Date of Conferral





Human Services


Avon Hart-Johnson


Behavioral health services exist for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); yet, untreated diagnoses may lead to the risk of compromised behavioral health. The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of OEF/OIF veterans regarding their decision to seek and retain behavioral health services for addressing PTSD. The research focus and questions were employed through the theoretical concepts of Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenological theory, Heider’s attribution theory, and Beck’s cognitive behavioral theory. In-person interviews were conducted to collect data from 8 OEF/OIF veterans who had encounters with behavioral health services. To confirm accuracy, subsequent data analysis, and thematic coding were incorporated using Colaizzi’s 7-step method. One key research finding was that enhanced provider skill sets may strengthen a veteran’s desire to seek and retain counseling. Another finding was that female respondents preferred conferring with a female provider. Future research may help explore how veterans can better appreciate the value of behavioral health services and its positive influence on addressing PTSD. This study’s implications for positive social change involve bolstering researchers’ understanding of veterans’ engagements with behavioral health services. Subsequent research may help motivate providers on the use of cultural competency training for improving their veteran knowledge. The key findings from this study revealed that reminders of PTSD are ever-present in OEF/OIF veterans lived experiences; counseling is necessary but finding and maintaining services with a well-matched provider remains difficult.