Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom are the first long-term wars fought with an all-volunteer army. This has led to fewer available soldiers who are deployed more frequently and for longer periods of time. The impact of these deployments is significant and has been found to increase likelihood for substance abuse, mental health disorders, and concerns in the veteran, or service member’s, social functioning and overall adjustment upon returning to civilian life. There have been significant developments in our understanding of these issues, as well as effective interventions and treatment. However, many veterans still do not seek or receive beneficial treatment due to mental health stigma, as well as other barriers. While many treatment paradigms address the unique needs of the family or the individual veteran, very few resources seek to both objectively inform and provide practical coping strategies for the loved ones of veterans. Research has shown social support is a preventative factor in regards to developing or resolving mental health concerns. Similarly, research has demonstrated that others’ perceptions of mental health symptoms significantly impacts how much support and understanding their loved ones will provide (e.g. personalization of withdrawal symptoms). This manual provides a balance of both information and skills to loved ones in order to increase understanding and awareness regarding the difficulties of the transition to from military to civilian life, for both parties. Additionally, the manual integrates attachment theory concepts throughout the resource to foster self-awareness and consideration of the loved one’s own relationship style and emotional regulation. The intended audience is broad and includes a wide range of important relationships that may be affected. It was broken down into three main sections that build upon each other: Understand, Reconnect, and Rebuild. This manual was developed through critical literature review of peer-reviewed research and personal accounts. The results of the analysis were applied to issues relevant to the transition process from military to civilian life as identified through research or review of personal accounts of the transition home from war.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Veterans -- Mental health; Veterans' families -- Services for -- United States; Iraq War, 2003-2011 -- Veterans -- Services for -- United States.

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Cozolino, Louis;