Rings, Jeffrey

Committee Member

Johnson, Brian D.

Committee Member

Clukey, Lory

Committee Member

Boyce, Travis


College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Department; of Applied Psychology and Counselor Education, Program of Counseling Psychology


University of Northern Colorado

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Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



249 pages

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Born digital


The purpose of this study was to examine the phenomenological experience of veteran identity development in post-9/11 veterans who identify within the Black diaspora. Given that current research suggests that behavioral health providers lack the sufficient training necessary to meet the unique clinical needs of post-9/11 veterans, this study aimed to examine military culture and experience in the context of intersecting cultural identities so as to more effectively frame the services offered by counseling psychologists working with Black military veterans and service members. More specifically, this study strengthens the existing empirical framework for addressing the behavioral health needs of post-9/11 Black veterans by integrating identity into the discussion. This study explored identity development in the context of the military members’ Black and veteran identities to more adequately inform current veteran resources and services. Black veterans are a particularly vulnerable subgroup given that they are the largest historically marginalized ethnic group within the military, experience homelessness at significantly disproportionate rates (Edens, Kasprow, Tsai, & Rosenheck, 2011), experience greater rates of injustice within the military court system (Christensen & Tsilker, 2017), and report higher rates of mental illness and psychological trauma (Kulka et al., 1990). Thus, the purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to privilege the diverse experiences of Black military veterans, and (b) to advance a theory of Black veteran identity development that was useful to mental health professionals who were challenged with articulating the psychosocial needs of Black OEF/OIF/OND veterans. In this qualitative study, an interpretive phenomenology methodological framework was utilized. A total of 12 Black post-9/11 veteran participants were ultimately recruited and interviewed for this qualitative phenomenological study intended to investigate the stories constructed by Black post-9/11 veterans regarding their military experiences and identity development process. Qualitative analysis began with a unique case orientation and withincase analysis that examined and described each individual participant. Demographic/military history questionnaire and field notes were examined to add context to the narratives shared in each participant's interview transcript in order to create a detailed portrait of each participant. Further, common themes that emerged from the participants’ interview transcripts were described. Themes fell into six categories: (a) Keep it pushing/suck it up, (b) Family orientation/communalism: “I’m sticking with the community,” (c) Seeing green/colorblindness, (d) No protective cloak/microcosm of American society, (e) The military narrative as a chapter book, and (f) Understanding blackness requires a cultural fluency. Several research and clinical implications for counseling psychologists were also discussed.

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