This paper presents a qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with eleven student veterans about transitioning from the U.S. military to civilian life and to a midsized, public university. The U.S. military and American institutions of higher education are significantly different, and these differences make adaptation for student veterans more difficult. The purpose of this research was to understand what this transition was like for student veterans and the factors that affected how they negotiated the move back home. Using framework analysis (Ritchie & Spencer, 1994), we noted five themes of student veterans’ military service that impacted their transition: (a) task cohesion; (b) military structure; (c) military responsibilities and release anxiety; (d) combat experience; and (e) social cohesion in combat units. We describe each of these themes and explain how they influenced student veterans’ experiences in school. We conclude with suggested policy implications for institutions of higher education. Keywords: Military, Combat, Student Veterans, Higher Education, Total Institution, Role Exit, Framework Analysis.


qualitative research

Author Bio(s)

Dara Naphan is currently a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Social Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is interested in factors that affect college students’ sense of belonging and persistence in higher education. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to Dara Naphan at Email: dnaphan@unr.edu Marta Elliott is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Reno who received her PhD from The Johns Hopkins University in 1994. Her areas of research expertise and teaching include the social determinants of mental and physical health with particular attention to socioeconomic status, gender, religion, and military service. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to Marta Elliot at Email: melliott@unr.edu

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