The Role Self and Perceived Stigma of Military Identity

Sarah Desmarais, PhD and Sam Cacace, PhD, North Carolina State University

Funded by North Carolina State University

Proposed Model of Self and Perceived Stigma on Social Variables and Health

Military service members and veterans comprise 21.8 million people in the current U.S. population, and there are approximately 1 million active-duty service members in the Armed Forces across all branches, on average, at any given time. The impact of military service on health and well-being is well-documented in the literature, highlighted increased rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other mental health problems compared to civilians. However, they are much less likely to seek help. While some work has explored stigma as a barrier to mental health service utilization among veterans, no scientific work has been done to explore the role of military identity itself may play in reluctance to seek help, and poor health and well-being among service members and veterans. The proposed study is the first step to address the gap. The survey will query on military identity self and perceived stigma, interpersonal closeness, subjective health, help-seeking behaviors, and well-being in a U.S. Armed Forces member and veteran sample of 350-400 participants. Prior research on civilians has documented the importance of social relationships, interpersonal closeness, and stigma on health and well-being. However, this study will specifically target an active-duty military and veteran sample, for whom the effects of self and perceived stigma against military identity are not yet known. The current study will use a variety of existing measures to assess these points in an online survey sampling members of national veteran organizations and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. This research project is funded by North Carolina State University through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Development and Research Funds.