Exploring Family Resiliency Within Canadian Armed Forces Veteran Families During the Military to Civilian Transition

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Wynia, Kaitlin
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The Military to Civilian Transition (MCT) is defined as the peri-release time period that begins a few months before the official release from service and that ends up to two years after. Although the majority of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Veterans experience a smooth MCT trajectory, MCT can be associated with emotional, financial, relational, and physical stresses. Family resiliency describes the outcomes that arise when a family exercises their capacity to respond productively to stresses as a collective relational network. Military family research underscores the notion that families can play a salient role in supporting Veterans though MCT and are likewise affected by the challenges and opportunities inherent to this transitional period. Using data from a qualitative study undertaken by Norris, Cramm, and Schwartz (2017), this thesis explored the question, “How do family members of CAF Veterans in Atlantic Canada with a mental health problem cultivate family resiliency during MCT?” The constructivist grounded theory coding techniques outlined by Charmaz (2014) were leveraged to analyze seven in-depth interviews involving family members of CAF Veterans. This thesis employed a multidimensional and integrative approach to exploring the cultivation of family resiliency in an effort to capture this phenomenon holistically. This approach conceptualizes family resiliency as an outcome influenced by characteristics pertinent to the family, intra-familial processes, and the family-context interactions at each level of social analysis in the ecological systems model put forward by Bronfenbrenner (1977). The analysis revealed that MCT can potentially pose stresses that provide opportunities for CAF Veteran families to cultivate family resiliency. Their ability to cultivate family resiliency was strengthened by institutional, community, and family supports. Results could be leveraged to inform policies, practices, and services for CAF Veterans and their families during MCT.
Military to Civilian Transition, Canadian Armed Forces, family resiliency