Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Background: Traditional perspectives of veteran mental health are grounded in physiological and psychological principles of trauma response and recovery. An alternative perspective is needed for the provision of culturally relevant healthcare to our nation's newest veterans. Research Question: Based on the premise that each veteran cohort has a characteristically identifiable cultural form and process of cultural identification and negotiated development, the research question guiding this study was, "What is the culture of the Iraq War veteran?" Study Aim: The purpose of this study was to describe, from social constructivist perspective, Operation Iraqi Freedom [OIF] veteran cultural identity development. Study Design and Method: A qualitative, explorative, ethnographic research method was utilized. Veterans participated in one of three participation options: Medical chart review only, Focus group only, or Medical chart review and Focus groups. Eleven veterans participated in the focus group and medical chart review option; one veteran participated in the medical chart review, only, option. A structured interview guide was used to prompt veteran narrative. Data Analysis: Content analysis of medical chart documentation, including mental health, behavioral health, and psychotherapy documentation, and constant comparison data analysis of verbatim transcription of focus group discussion. Results: A conceptual model of Iraq War veteran cultural identity development, based on five dynamic processes of identity resolution, is proposed. The five concepts of the model are: (1) Societal Visitation, (2) Awareness of Permanent Displacement, (3) Dilemma of Transfigured Purpose, (4) Reevaluation of Belongingness, and (5) Identity Confluence.

Nursing Implications: Understanding the culture of the Iraq War veteran is an essential foundation for socially-invested and culturally appropriate nursing and interdisciplinary provider responsiveness in addressing the healthcare needs of Iraq War veterans and their families. To promote a relationship of reciprocal involvement with its Iraq War veterans, study findings and the proposed conceptual model can be used by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and non-VA clinicians to describe and further investigate the contextual and consensual processes of Iraq War veteran cultural identity development.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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