Date Approved

2020

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Committee Member

Brian Sellers, PhD

Committee Member

Grigoris Argeros, PhD

Abstract

The purpose of this paper was to examine the relationship between post-military service stress reactions and subsequent coping behaviors among military veterans at Eastern Michigan University (EMU). The analytical approach was based on Agnew’s general strain theory, which contends that individuals turn to unhealthy or illegitimate coping mechanisms to deal with pain, whether that be physical or psychological. Data was gathered in the form of a survey of student veterans using both dichotomous and Likert-scale questions designed to assess both their level of post-service stress and coping mechanisms with emphasis on identifying post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) type conditions. PTSD assessment was based partially on a checklist of indicators from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). A total of 34 military veterans responded to the survey, 26 identified as “male,” and eight as “female”. We found in our survey that overall individuals do turn to illegal or unhealthy means as a way of coping with whatever pain they may have experienced or currently still are experiencing. The primary coping mechanisms that appeared from our research were tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use, and while other coping mechanisms did appear, these were the most common. We also did not find a notable difference between men and women in terms of coping mechanisms or stress, though the female sample size was smaller than the male sample size, which could be a limitation to our data. One of the main findings from our analysis indicates that vulnerabilities to PTSD were not affected by whether or not a veteran served in combat, but rather if they were wounded or not. We also determined that stress was exhibited by most respondents regardless of whether they deployed overseas or not, meaning merely serving in the military created an atmosphere of extreme stress. Overall our most significant limitation was our number of respondents. Had we achieved our sample size goal, our data could have been even more revealing. Nonetheless, we received some alarming responses from our data. This paper hopes to help EMU and the Veterans Administration better assist our veterans with their needs and issues.

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Criminology Commons

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