How Deployed Service Members Make Meaning of Their Experiences: Chaplains’ Perspectives

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Social Work Master's Clinical Research Papers

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Roemer, Jessica
UST Research Online
meaning making; religiosity; spirituality; service members; Clinical and Medical Social Work; Social Work; CLIC thesis
paper description
Every service member experiences and is affected by deployment differently; there are, however, trends in the ways that service members are affected and ways in which they cope. The researcher explored the effect of deployment on religious and spiritual beliefs and the ways that service members use their religious and spiritual beliefs to make meaning of their experiences. Interviews were conducted with seven participants (n=7), primarily chaplains, who had discussed religious and spiritual matters with post-9/11 service members during deployment. This study found that deployment has an effect on the religious and spiritual beliefs of service members, and they use their beliefs to cope and to make meaning of their experiences. Service members cope through prayer, worship, good luck charms, reading Scripture, and discussions with others. The participants described how, why, and when service members make meaning and events where meaning was difficult to find. These findings indicate that social workers should assess for the religious and spiritual needs of service members because of the role that these beliefs play in coping and making meaning. Social workers should then make referrals if the needs of service members are beyond their scope of practice.