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Spiritual Aspects of Canadian Armed Forces Veterans’ Transition to Civilian Life: An Exploratory Study

  • Author / Creator
    Winfield, Hope
  • Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veterans’ experiences of military to civilian transition (MCT) have been of increasing interest. Successful transition to civilian life following military service is beneficial to veterans themselves, their families and the community at large. CAF veterans who have successfully transitioned often report positive health and well-being, relationships, and careers, while those who report difficult transitions seem to experience poorer mental and physical health, income struggles, and personal relationship issues. Well-being factors identified as having an impact on successful MCT include health, financial security, life-skills, housing, employment or meaningful purpose, cultural and social environment, and social integration. With the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) being increasingly interested in facilitating successful transition, attention has been directed to both these factors and various domains (i.e., physical, psychological, emotional, relational, social, and spiritual) that intersect with them. While much attention has been given to several of these factors and domains, less understood is the role of spiritual and religious (S/R) health and well-being in successful MCT. The purpose of this master's thesis was to determine the broad understanding of spirituality from a veteran context, in order to explore (1) ways in which S/R factors contribute to facilitators, or are obstacles to MCT, and (2) recommendations to better support current and future veterans as they embrace MCT using S/R strategies. This thesis contains two studies. First, a scoping review was conducted to map emerging evidence-based and grey literature on the S/R effects of MCT. Using thematic analysis, several key findings emerged regarding spiritual, religious and existential impacts: a) positive and negative mental health outcomes; b) veterans’ abilities to adapt their military identity, meaning- making and self-transformation; c) the need for spiritual care and chaplaincy; and d) the contribution of faith-based organizations and community support. Second, a qualitative descriptive research study was conducted with 15 Canadian veterans to better understand their perspectives around spirituality and health; gain insight into their lived experience and ongoing impacts to their S/R health; and glean lessons learned and suggestions about S/R strategies that might help policy makers, service providers and future members with MCT.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-0c0x-b433
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.