Since 2001, over 2.7 million U.S. military service members have been deployed (Wenger et al., 2018). Many of these soldiers have encountered serious challenges readjusting upon their return home and many may not access the services needed to achieve successful reintegration. Current literature calls for holistic approaches to service provision, involving collaboration of support services to address the underutilization of services. To better understand the gap in treatment utilization, a qualitative approach was used to examine returning veterans’ experiences of an intensive and holistic service delivery program implemented in coordination with local veterans’ organizations. Within the study, a generic qualitative approach was used to analyze interviews with 6 military veterans who had previously been deployed and were participating in the holistic therapeutic program. Results of the analysis revealed the following themes pertaining to participants’ experiences of the treatment process: (a) the importance of trusting relationships in the therapeutic setting; (b) importance of gaining adaptive coping strategies; (c) maintaining a sense of strength and independence; (d) difficulty with adjusting to civilian life and access of support services; and (e) difficulty with self-expression in civilian contexts. Limitations and recommendations are also provided.


qualitative research, veterans, holistic treatment, posttraumatic stress disorder, reintegration

Author Bio(s)

Elda Kanzki-Veloso, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Psychology. Previously, she was an Associate Professor at the Abraham S. Fischler College of Education for 12 years and is currently an at the College of Psychology's Department of Counseling. Her main responsibility in the department includes, but is not limited to, coordinating the practicum and internship placement process for the department. Dr. Kanzki-Veloso received her Ph.D. in Counseling, with an emphasis in Family Therapy from Barry University, a M.S. in Counseling with a specialization in Special Educational from Florida International University, and a B.S. in Psychology from Hofstra University. Her research interests include veterans, adolescent substance abuse, and effective integration of technology for learning in any context (online, hybrid, face to face). She has a wealth of experience in the field of evidence-based research with adolescent substance abusers and their families. In her tenure at NSU, she led the Center for Assessment and Intervention at the Fischler School of Education and Human Services (currently Fischler College of Education) and was in integral part of the applied research center where she oversaw the dissertation process for all doctoral students. Please direct correspondence to veloso@nova.edu.

Angela Yehl, Psy.D. (yehl@nova.edu) - Dr. Angela Yehl is Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and an Associate Professor for the Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice at Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Yehl’s teaching and research interests include qualitative research and program evaluation in the health and human services. Current areas of research include the use of restorative justice practices in dependency court, veterans’ wellness, and mindfulness meditation.

Dr. James Pann (pann@nova.edu) is an Associate Professor at Nova Southeastern University where he focuses on program evaluation projects, courses, and instruction. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. He obtained his M.S.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Miami. Dr. Pann completed his postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric behavioral medicine at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami/ Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

Jacob Connolly holds a Psy.D. from Nova Southeastern University in Clinical Psychology. He is currently employed by the Orlando VA Health Care System where he works in the Behavioral Health Interdisciplinary Program as a Psychologist. This article was written during his graduate studies at Nova Southeastern University. Please direct any correspondence to jacob.connolly@va.gov.

Capt. Stephen Grabner is a clinical psychologist at Dover AFB, where he currently serves as the Mental Health Element Chief. He completed his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Capt. Grabner has presented research in Forensic and Military Psychology, and his dissertation focused on evaluating assessment tools used in false confession evaluations. He also co-founded the first database of female false confessions to highlight gender discrepancies in the literature. He completed his pre-doctoral internship at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland AFB, TX. In addition to residency training, he has experience working in general outpatient mental health setting, a residential VA program, and he has broad experience with evaluations and treatment in forensic settings. Capt Grabner has experience providing evidence-based interventions with active-duty members and is trained in a variety of modalities including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Solution-Focused Therapy, among others. In his free time, Capt Grabner enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter and running with his dogs.

Lyndsey Zoller holds a Psy.D. from Nova Southeastern University in Clinical Psychology. She is currently employed by the Columbia VA Health Care System where she is the SUD/PTSD Specialist with the Trauma Recovery Program and is also the Clinical Training Director of the Internship and Post-Doctoral Residency Programs. This article was written during her graduate studies at Nova Southeastern University. Please direct any correspondence to Lyndsey.Zoller@va.gov.

Nicole Staley graduated from Nova Southeastern University in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering with a concentration in Industrial & Systems, with minors in Psychology, Research Studies, and Mathematics. While studying, she participated in Razor’s Research Scholars Program and played on the Women’s soccer team for Nova Southeastern. She is now currently an Assistant Department Manager for Publix’s Lakeland Fresh Kitchen.

Renata F. S. Goldhagen, M.A., M.A., M.S., is a psychology trainee in the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology at Nova Southeastern University. She has assisted Dr. Elda Kanzki-Veloso with preparation of manuscripts and review of manuscripts submitted for publication in The Qualitative Report. Renata Goldhagen received a M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University, a M.A. in Communication from the University of Maryland, College Park, a M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College, and a B.A. in English and psychology from the University of Rochester. She was also selected for and completed the University of Rochester’s unique and highly selective Take 5 Scholars Program. She has experience working in the fields of project management, case management, program evaluation, and qualitative research. Her research and clinical interests include veterans, serious mental illness, complex trauma, resilience, and suicide prevention. She is a student member of the American Psychological Association, Division 18 of the American Psychological Association: Psychologists in Public Service, and the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration. She will be completing her predoctoral psychology internship at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

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