(334) 844-3299
Detailed Record
Share this Article

Roles of religion and spirituality among veterans who manage PTSD and their partners

APA Citation:

Sherman, M. D., Usset, T., Voecks, C., & Harris, J. I. (2018). Roles of religion and spirituality among veterans who manage PTSD and their partners. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 10(4), 368–374. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000159

Abstract Created by REACH:

Traumatic experiences may interfere with service members’ intimate relationships as well as their religious and spiritual beliefs. This qualitative study interviewed 11 male veterans and 9 female partners of veterans to examine how veterans’ exposure to trauma may influence both intimate relationships and religious/spiritual values. Findings suggest that religion and spirituality can be perceived as a source of comfort and support or as a source of contention for veterans and partners of veterans who have experienced a traumatic event.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
Aged (65 yrs & older)


Cross-Sectional Study
Qualitative Study


Sherman, Michelle D., Usset, Timothy, Voecks, Cory, Harris, J. Irene


Traumatic events can have ripple effects on the survivor’s intimate relationships and on his or her religious/spirituality (R/S) beliefs and practices. Although both of these outcomes have been examined independently, research has yet to consider the intersection of trauma, its impacts on partners and intimate relationships, and R/S. This exploratory qualitative study involved individual interviews with 20 participants, including 11 male married veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; or subthreshold PTSD) and 9 female married partners of male veterans with PTSD (or subthreshold PTSD). Interviews explored perceptions of the roles of R/S in how participants coped with the veteran’s PTSD, both individually and as a couple. Participants described a wide array of responses in their R/S beliefs and activities, ranging from withdrawal and avoidance to deeper engagement and growth. Although many participants described drawing upon their R/S beliefs and practices to support their spouses, a few shared how female partners used R/S against their veterans in a hurtful manner. Couples described their spiritual bond with one another as facilitating communication and strengthening their relational bond. Implications for psychotherapy and future research are discussed.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

American Psychological Association

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, MDS
Minneapolis VA Health Care System, TU
Minneapolis VA Health Care System, CV
Minneapolis VA Health Care System, JIH


spirituality, religion, veterans, couples, posttraumatic stress disorder

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  November 2019

This website uses cookies to improve the browsing experience of our users. Please review Auburn University’s Privacy Statement for more information. Accept & Close