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Problems with Anger and Violence Among United States Military Service Members


This dissertation examines problems with anger and violence among United States Military Service Members. In the first chapter, I review the literature on anger and aggression among veterans. Several studies have found associations between anger and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among Vietnam veterans. Little research has been done with veterans of recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only one study examined anger problems among women veterans.

In the second chapter, I use a qualitative approach to explore how veterans themselves experience anger and how anger affects their lives. I show that veterans report experiencing problems with anger in multiple social contexts, including with family, friends, at work and school, and in the community. For most veterans, these problems dissipate over time as the veteran adjusts to civilian life. However, for some veterans, anger problems persist and can lead to adverse consequences, such as marital strife, dropping out of school, or being fired from a job.

In the third chapter, I use epidemiologic methods to assess quantitatively the prevalence of anger and violence in a population-based sample of current National Guard and Reserve service members. I examine the relations of problems with anger and violence with deployment history and PTSD status. Half of service members reported problems with anger. These problems are significantly more common among those who experienced traumas during deployment and those had PTSD. Only about 2% of service members reported problems with violence; however, these problems are much more common among those with deployment traumas and/or PTSD.

In sum, this dissertation shows that anger is a common problem among United States service members and that anger negatively affects service members in a variety of ways. Several new directions for research are indicated to more fully understand these problems.

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