First Advisor

Cynthia D. Mohr

Term of Graduation

Winter 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology






Retired military personnel -- Psychology, Veterans -- Psychology, Identity (Psychology), Well-being



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 159 pages)


Approximately 200,000 service members exit the military each year; as of 2016, there were 19 million veterans in the U.S. As service members transition out of the military and acclimate to civilian life, they face a multitude of stressors. For example, estimates vary from 44 to 72% of veterans reportedly experience increased stress during their transition which often entails securing civilian employment, navigating interpersonal difficulties, and adapting to the challenges of civilian life. These stressors have harmful consequences and have been linked to physical and mental health, and suicide risk. Despite these findings, research examining the well-being of veterans following military separation has been scant and less is known about the wellness of veterans who do not utilize VA healthcare. Considering that transition stressors are more prevalent among veterans than PTSD, some scholars have called for additional research to examine transition-related stressors while accounting for additional intraindividual factors such as moral injury, grief, and identity. The current study focused on this last intraindividual factor as identity has been shown to influence a variety of adult transition outcomes. This dissertation specifically aimed to examine indices of veteran well-being across interpersonal, heath, and organizational domains as a function of military identity while accounting for contextual factors such as combat exposure and military tenure. Additionally, the incremental validity of military identity was explored and was determined to enhance the predictive validity of veteran wellness beyond established predictors. The moderating role of separation time (i.e., how long veterans have been out of the military) was also examined and included a range between two months and 13 years; results indicated that separation time had little effect on the salience of one’s military identity which suggests that veteran identity (or lack thereof) is stable over time and may continually influence the well-being of veterans as indicated below. Participants (n=509) were comprised of post-9/11 veterans and service members serving in National Guard/Reserve components who were recruited as part of the Study for Employment Retention of Veterans (SERVe). Overall, this study elucidated the relationship between stronger military identity and higher levels of aggression, anger, suicide risk, perceived stress, psychological distress and lower levels of sleep quality and job attitudes. In light of these findings, this study calls on future research to examine causal links between military identity and veteran outcomes and highlights the potential benefits of targeting identity factors in defense separation programs or veteran support programs in the civilian workplace.


© 2022 James David Lee

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