Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Gina P. Owens

Committee Members

Dawn M. Szymanski, Brent S. Mallinckrodt, Brian K. Barber


The current study investigated potential protective resources: hope, rumination, resilience and unit support as they related to PTSD symptom severity among service members who deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and experienced combat (N = 191). We also investigated each variable for possible interactions with combat exposure. Correlational analyses and hierarchical linear regression were used to analyze the data. Hope, resilience and unit support were all negatively correlated with PTSD symptom severity and combat exposure. Deliberate rumination and intrusive rumination were positively correlated with PTSD symptom severity. In the regression, significant predictors were rank, combat exposure, resilience and intrusive rumination, with enlisted rank, higher combat exposure, and higher intrusive rumination predicting higher levels of PTSD symptom severity and resilience predicting lower levels. Resilience moderated the relationship between combat exposure and PTSD symptom severity, such that participants who had higher levels of resilience had lower levels of PTSD symptom severity at all levels of combat exposure. These findings suggest the importance of increasing resilience in combat veterans, specifically those of enlisted rank and veterans exposed to higher levels of combat. Findings also suggest that teaching veterans how to control or minimize intrusive rumination may help lower the risk that a veteran will develop PTSD.

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