Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Social Work

Major Professor

Stan L. Bowie

Committee Members

Cynthia Rocha, William R. Nugent, Laurie L. Meschke

Abstract

Sense of Community (SOC) has been the theoretical underpinnings of practice models with veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Amdur et al. 2011; Bowen, Martin, Mancini & Nelson, 2000; Hollingsworth, 2011; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs). The current study addresses the need for empirical evidence to support this practice intervention by testing the mediation role of SOC on the relationship between Veteran Community Reintegration (VCR) risk factors and VCR difficulties. Secondary data from a cross-sectional survey consisting of N=131 military veterans in the southern region of the United States was used to test this model. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) resulted a model which did not fit the data well: χ² [Chi square] (df = 761, N=131) = 1480.072, p = .000 RMSEA = .085, PCLOSE = .000 TLI=.721 & CFI = .754. Consequently a conservative path analysis was chosen. The path model also failed to fit the data well: χ² = 46.016 (4 df, N = 131), p = .000, CFI = .744, RMSEA = .284, PCLOSE = .000, TLI = -.345). Model fit indices suggest limitations to results from this study. The path from depression symptoms to SOC (B = -.407 (β [Beta] = -.278), SE= .154, p = .008), the path from suicidal ideation to SOC (B = 1.027(β = .207), SE= .443, p = .020), and the path from SOC to VCR difficulties (B=.974 (β = .488), SE = 6.039, p <.001) were all statistically significant. These results suggest a possibility that SOC has a negative mediating effect on the relationship between depression symptoms and VCR difficulties and a positive mediating effect on the relationship between suicidal ideation and VCR difficulties. Implications of study findings for social work practice and future research directions are discussed.

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