Research has consistently examined the effects of intergenerational trauma among children of combat veterans and the negative impact this has on psychological functioning. The current study explored the relationship between attachment style, post-traumatic growth, and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among second generation combat veterans. A sample of male combat veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) were included in the study (n = 6). The was an exploratory study that utilized a mixed-methods approach to explore lived experiences. Descriptive statistics, as well as correlation analysis were conducted to examine associations among quantitative variables. Results from qualitative analysis revealed several themes on how relational patterns and combat experiences can serve as either risk factors or protective factors for PTSD. Quantitative analysis found that veterans with secure attachment style endorsed less psychological symptoms when compared to fellow veterans with anxious/avoidant attachment patterns. Veterans with anxious/avoidant attachment styles had higher post-traumatic growth scores, were more likely to misuse alcohol, and had a history of mental health treatment. The study lays the groundwork for future studies to explore protective factors among second generation combat veterans. It also highlights the importance of early attachment experiences and how these impact an individual’s ability to regulate future stress, such as combat.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Post-traumatic stress disorder -- Treatment; Veterans -- Mental health; Children of veterans -- Mental health

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Bryant-Davis, Thema;