Methods: Data for these analyses were drawn from a wellbeing study of U.S. Veterans in the San Francisco and Chicago areas (N=1926). Our analytic sample (N=763) included only post 9/11 veterans who indicated that they financially support at least one child (mean age=35.5 [20-67]; mean time since left service 5.4 years [0-17]). Three measures from the survey were analyzed in addition to demographic questions: (1) Military Transition Preparedness Scale; (2) Warrior Identity subscales, including military as a family and military connection; (3) McMaster Family Assessment Device (FAD) general functioning subscale. Hierarchical linear regression was used to understand the strength of the relationship between different retrospective and current military transition factors with family functioning. Specifically, three models were run including: (1) demographics (age, race, gender, education, rank, service branch and time since left the service); (2) retrospective military transition factors (transition preparedness and discharge status); (3) current military transition factors (military as a family and military connection).
Results: Hierarchical linear regression results demonstrate all three regression models were significant at the p<.001 and the model with both retrospective and current military transition factors explained the most variance of our outcome of family functioning (F [18,523] = 8.15, p<.001, R2 = 0.219). Retrospective factors of transition preparedness (β = .66, p < .001) and the current military transition factors of military as a family (β = -.50, p < .001) and military connection (β = .70, p < .001) are significant predictors for family functioning.
Conclusions: Our findings highlight that there are significant military specific factors such as how prepared a service member was before leaving the service and how strongly they currently identify with the military socially and personally that can contribute to veteran family functioning. Though preliminary, our findings support providing veteran families with military culture educational services to provide context to the social connections a veteran could still be identifying with post service. These results highlight the importance of the veteran being prepared for a variety of aspects of civilian life for the healthy functioning of familial relationships even after they leave the service. Lastly, these findings support the inclusion of military families in general during the military to civilian transition.