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Translating Discovery Science. Fostering relationships: Service provider perspectives on community building among veteran families

APA Citation:

Monk, J. K., Ruhlmann, L., Nelson Goff, B. S., Ogan, M., & Miller, M. B. (2022). Translating Discovery Science. Fostering relationships: Service provider perspectives on community building among veteran families. Family Relations. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12724

Abstract Created by REACH:

The Integrative Intensive Retreat (IIR) is a 4-day retreat designed to provide holistic care (e.g., emotional well-being, community support) for Veterans and their support persons (e.g., romantic partners). Other studies have evaluated the IIR’s effects, but this investigation’s purpose was understanding how service providers fostered a sense of community during the retreat. Civilian service providers who facilitated the IIR (n = 8) were interviewed as the primary source of information. Post-retreat data from Veterans and their support persons (n = 143) were also used to learn more about community building from the participants’ perspectives. Overall, 3 primary themes emerged.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Marine Corps
Air Force
Coast Guard
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Military families
Guard/Reserve member
Military non-medical service providers
Spouse of service member or veteran


Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Qualitative Study
Quantitative Study
Cross sectional study


Monk, J. Kale, Ruhlmann, Lauren, Nelson Goff, Briana S., Ogan, Matthew, Miller, Mary Beth


Objective We sought to identify the social process through which communal support can be established among veteran couples and families. Background On the basis of the social organization theory of action and change, a sense of community is crucial for military veterans' well-being and may serve as a resource for intervention. Method We interviewed service providers (n = 8) and corroborated their perspectives by triangulating evaluations from veteran family participants (n = 143). Data were analyzed using grounded theory techniques. Results Providers suggested promoting a sense of community in prevention and intervention programming by (a) establishing a safe and empowering space, (b) bridging existing gaps within family and community systems, and (c) encouraging interpersonal healing by promoting connection and facilitating the sharing of common experiences. Providers also described challenges to facilitating the program, including logistics, time, and funding constraints. Conclusion According to our results, fostering community among veterans and their family members may be achieved by applying an integrative approach that goes beyond siloed individual, couple, and group therapy orchestrated by practitioners. Implications We recommend multicomponent interventions that create synergy between different levels and forms of social support. Providers recommended being intentional about the program structure to focus on community strengths and shared connection.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Wiley Online

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Human Development and Family Science, University of Missouri, JKM
Department of Human Development and Family Science, Auburn University, LR
Department of Applied Human Sciences, Kansas State University, BSNG
Department of Human Development and Family Science, University of Missouri, MO
Department of Psychiatry, University of Missouri, MBM


family retreat, recreation, community involvement

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


MU Research Council; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Grant/Award Numbers: K23AA026895, R21AA025175

REACH Newsletter:

  November 2022

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