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Leaving military service: A mixed-methods study into the experience of transition from active service to civilian life among a subset of former Australian Defence Force Members

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The Leaving Military Service study investigated the experience of transition to civilian life among Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel with a probable 30-day mental disorder.

The primary aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of the lived experience of recently transitioned military veterans, particularly those experiencing mental health problems.

Findings from this study helped to inform and complement the growing body of research emerging on transitioned ADF members, and provided valuable insight into the complexity of individual factors and circumstances that have the potential to enhance or inhibit one’s successful transition to civilian life.

The aims of this study were as follows:

1. To investigate the circumstances surrounding transition for ADF members identified as having a probable mental disorder in 2015. Specifically:

1. Whether their mental health symptoms were present prior to transition and whether or not
they were detected/disclosed to Defence.
2. The association between medical discharge and the development/maintenance of mental
and physical health symptoms post-transition.

2. To investigate the service requirements of Transitioned ADF members identified as having a probable mental disorder in 2015, Specifically:
1. Facilitators and barriers to accessing DVA entitlements and services.
2. Types of services/ entitlements received from DVA.
3. Satisfaction with and adequacy of DVA services/entitlements received.
4. DVA treatment latency.
5. Non-DVA services and supports that were accessed following transition.
6. Satisfaction with Non-DVA services and supports that were accessed following the transition.

3. Identify any other support mechanisms and strategies that were/would be considered helpful in relation to a Transitioned ADF member’s mental or physical health during the transition period.

The Leaving Military Service Study employed a mixed methods design that included:

1. A quantitative self-report questionnaire conducted online or in hardcopy (Phase 1).
2. A semi-structured qualitative interview conducted over the telephone (Phase 2).

The study recruited 53 transitioned ADF members who, 1) participated in the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme, 2) consented to the linkage of their data with other health registries, 3) consented to being approached for further studies, and 4) were identified as having a probable disorder in 2015. Of the 53 survey respondents, 20 also completed the qualitative interview.

  • Team/Investigators

    Associate Professor Dr Miranda Van Hooff ( University of Adelaide / Military and Emergency Services and Health Australia ), Marie Iannos (University of Adelaide / MESHA ), Ellie Lawrence-Wood (University of Adelaide), Dr Amelia Searle (University of Adelaide), Alexander McFarlane (University of Adelaide)

  • Funding Body

    The Road Home Colonel (Rtd) Susan Neuhaus CSC Fellowship grant

  • Year Commenced


  • Expected Completion Date

    December 2020

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