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Who supports the troops? Social support domains and sources in active duty Army networks

APA Citation:

Barr, N., Petry, L., Fulginiti, A., Arora, A., Cederbaum, J., Castro, C., & Rice, E. (2023). Who supports the troops? Social support domains and sources in active duty Army networks. Armed Forces & Society. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/0095327X231182907

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined the social support networks of active-duty Soldiers. 241 active-duty Soldiers reported which of their network contacts they could turn to for emotional, informational, and mental health help-seeking support and indicated the relationship type (e.g., relative, military friend), gender, and race of each contact. They also reported their own demographic information (e.g., race, rank), as well as unit cohesion. Overall, Soldiers seemed well-connected: over 90% reported at least 1 person to whom they could go for support. Notably, romantic partners were important sources of all types of support.


Physical health
Mental health

Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member


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


Barr, Nicholas, Petry, Laura, Fulginiti, Anthony, Arora, Anil, Cederbaum, Julie, Castro, Carl, Rice, Eric


Social support is a critical determinant of military service members’ mental and behavioral health outcomes, but few studies have investigated social support types and sources in the mixed family and military social networks in which service members are embedded. We applied multilevel logistic regression modeling to investigate links between active-duty Army Soldiers’ individual demographic and military characteristics, relational characteristics, and social support outcomes, in sample of 241 active-duty U.S. Army personnel. Results showed that participants who rated unit cohesion higher were more likely to report receiving informational, emotional, and mental health help-seeking support. Participants were more likely to receive informational, emotional, and help-seeking support from a romantic partner or deployment buddy than a relative and less likely to receive help-seeking support from males than females. Findings highlight the critical importance of both unit level and external relationships in meeting Soldiers’ social support needs.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


social support

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  November 2023

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