An Open Access article published in the Health Behavior and Policy Review Journal.


Alyssa B. Mayer, PhD, MPH
Taylor McCune, MOT, OTR/L
Justin T. McDaniel, PhD, MBA
Diana Gill, PhD, CHES
Robert J. McDermott, PhD, FAAHB


One in 4 active-duty US military personnel report needing support for mental health issues. This proportion increases to 41% of all US military veterans, suggesting mental health status may worsen by the transition from active duty to civilian life. In this study, we explore the lived experiences of veterans in the South Carolina Low country as they transition from active service to civilian life, with an emphasis on identifying services and support for this population.


We used a qualitative design employing a grounded theory approach. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 veterans in the first year of reintegration to civilian life that examined the following areas: (1) social isolation; (2) physical isolation; and (3) self-reported levels of mental distress.


Thematic saturation was reached with the following emerging themes: (1) perceived mental distress due to social and physical isolation, (2) difficulty transitioning from the military “family” to one’s actual family, (3) confusion regarding identity and place in society, and an expressed (4) need for services to support this critical period in a veteran’s life.


Our interview data provide insight about the experiences of military veterans as they return to civilian life and offer evidence for the need for better integration into the social and physical fabric of the population using both existing and enhanced community-based support programs.

Source: Health Behavior and Policy Review
Publisher: Paris Scholar Publishing Ltd.
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