PTSD, Service members, Reintegration

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The Iraq War was the longest war in the history of the United States, involving over 2 million service members. Service members who served in Iraq or Afghanistan experienced a high rate of mental health disorders including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and substance abuse as they returned from deployment. Research is lacking in regard to how Army reservists and National Guardsmen function at home, school, work, and in the community upon their return from service. The purpose of this qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of service members with PTSD who experienced challenges with work reintegration. Data were gathered through audio-recorded, semi-structured interviews with six service members from Alabama (four males, two females) and were viewed through the lens of social constructivist theory. Four themes emerged: reexperiencing the trauma, reconnecting with others, difficulty performing or maintaining employment, and a need for knowledge among counselors to develop best practices. It is recommended that the military, employers, and counselors provide additional training, treatment, and support for returned service members through the development of (a) a veterans' advisory board, (b) a peer support group for veterans and their spouses, (c) a veterans' peer consulting group to collaborate with employers, (d) a time bank for veterans, and (e) quarterly roundtables for the community and veterans. The implementation of these services could improve the employment reintegration and overall quality of life of returning service members with PTSD.

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