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This phenomenological study examined the descriptions of lived experience among female partners of veteran men with combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) via internet discussion forums. Personal, self-initiated written accounts of 30 partners were analyzed with respect to meaning, challenges, coping responses, and role in veterans’ healing and rehabilitation. Following data analysis, five descriptive themes emerged: all-consuming effect of the illness, walking on eggshells, ambiguous loss, alone, and facing PTSD as a unit. The central meaning of these themes describes the widespread priority of the veterans’ illness, and the resulting isolation, grief, and apprehension experienced by intimate partners as they assume primary caregiving roles. The findings indicate that the nature of combat-related PTSD places significant burden and responsibility on partners. I argue that mental health supports and services should be implemented in order to meet the needs of partners of veteran with PTSD. Furthermore, the needs and preferences of partners should be considered in the design and delivery of mental health services targeted toward veterans. This study has implications for practitioners and for future planning and implementation of services and interventions for military families affected by combat trauma.
Military Partners, Trauma, Phenomenology, Internet Forums, Qualitative Research
I would like to thank Dr. Monica Sesma-Vasquez for her ongoing consultation and support throughout this project.
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Recommended APA Citation
Beks, T. A. (2016). Walking on Eggshells: The Lived Experience of Partners of Veterans with PTSD. The Qualitative Report, 21(4), 645-660. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2016.2269
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