Transition from military to civilian: Identity, social connectedness, and veteran wellbeing

Mal Flack (Corresponding Author), Leah Kite

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Abstract

Military identity and a sense of social connectedness may help explain differences in contemporary veteran wellbeing following transition from military to civilian life. However, it is unclear how these constructs interrelate. The current study quantitatively explored the role of social connectedness in the relationship between military identity and subjective wellbeing among contemporary ex-serving Australian Defence Force veterans. To facilitate analyses, data from 358 veterans were used to first explore the suitability of the factor structure of the Warrior Identity Scale. Subsequently, the potential moderating and mediating effects of social connectedness in the relationship between military identity and wellbeing were explored via path analysis. Confirmatory factor analysis of the Warrior Identity Scale revealed support for the multidimensional construct of military identity, and a revised six-factor measurement model was found suitable for further path analysis. Consistent with past research, social connectedness positively related to quality of life and negatively related to psychological distress. There was no support for a moderation effect of social connectedness. However, results indicated military identity indirectly influenced wellbeing and distress via differential relationships with social connectedness. Specifically, private and public regard for the military and not feeling like an outsider positively related to social connectedness. In contrast, interdependence with other veterans, viewing the military as family, and the centrality of military identity negatively related to social connectedness. The results suggest nurturing the protective aspects of military identity and addressing inhibitory aspects of military identity may support a sense of social connectedness and wellbeing among ex-serving veterans.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0261634
Number of pages22
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2021

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