This qualitative study aims to find common themes that may suggest portrayals of former service members’ psychological development and their reintegration. We have found their cognitive dissonance from experiencing two very different cultures: the highly structured collective culture of military life and the individualistic culture of civilian life. Former service members tend to develop and maintain the strong ideology of “service to others” in civilian life as their goal or purpose of life. It became clear to us how they have reached to this ideology when we used our ethnic backgrounds and understandings as Japanese researchers who came from a society where collective well-being is highly valued. We came to the conclusion that the macroscopic as well as spiritual views would be beneficial to incorporate when counselors, support organizations, or health care providers are assisting former service members’ transition into civilian life.


Reintegration in Civilian Life, Psychological Development, Collectivistic Culture, Service to Others

Author Bio(s)

Masako Suzuki is a registered psychotherapist in Colorado and practices at a community counseling agency, Healing from the Heart, as a family and adolescent counselor in Denver, Colorado. She also manages support groups for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse at the WINGS Foundation, and she is a Certified Addiction Recovery & Mental Health Nutrition Coach. Her research interests include support and counseling for families, adolescents with poverty and trauma, active and former service members, and the populations that are culturally marginalized from mental health care. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: msuzuki@regis.edu.

Atsuko Kawakami is an assistant professor of sociology in the Department of Social Sciences at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. Her research interests include social support groups and system, transnational migration, health, gerontology, and Japan studies. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: kawakami@tarleton.edu.

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