Preferred Name

Chauncy Brinton

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Anne Stewart


The impact of secure military relationships on US service members’ response to trauma during military service was examined in this mixed methods study. Veterans with and without combat exposure evidence a high rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the military has tried to institute resilience-based programs in anticipation of the psychological challenges experienced by soldiers. At the same time, research has shown that some service members report positive outcomes associated with military service including the phenomena of post-traumatic growth (PTG). The constructs from attachment theory (safe haven and exploration) have begun to be the focus of research with service members and have been linked to PTG. In the current study, the statistical relationships and qualitative dimensions among attachment, PTSD, and PTG were examined. The quantitative portion of this study found that the more safe and secure service members rated their relationships with fellow service members, their unit, and their leaders, the fewer PTSD symptoms they reported and the more likely they were to experience post-traumatic growth, independent of demographics (age, education level, rank), and combat exposure. The qualitative portion of this study reported the broad and varied lived experiences of service members’ relationships – providing many answers to the question of how relationships matter. Implications of these findings for military programs and policies and future research directions are discussed.



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