The purpose of the Veteran Mental Health Initiative is to build a strong foundation of mental health research among the contemporary veteran cohort which will generate evidence to guide developments in procedures and practices to improve the wellbeing of the veteran and ex-serving community.
Our flagship research project, proudly supported by RSL Queensland, is focused on the transition process from service to civilian life. We are specifically investigating cultural reintegration in terms of moving from military system and culture to a civilian culture and the psychological adjustment process that goes with that.
This is an extremely important area to understand for improving the mental health and wellbeing of veterans and yet there is almost no scientific knowledge in Australia regarding this process.
Like the PTSD initiative, the development of this study was sparked by clinical practice within the hospital. Clinical psychologists working within a specialised veteran facility noticed an ongoing pattern of reintegration and adjustment difficulties among the veterans that appeared quite distinct from clinical diagnoses, but were causing significant problems with day-to-day functioning. So the multiple stage, Veteran Reintegration Study, was developed:
Stage 1 is a qualitative and in-depth look at the process of transitioning to civilian life following military service. This study will result in a comprehensive understanding of the issues and challenges facing ADF personnel who have recently discharged from the military. It will also help determine the factors that contribute to poor and successful transition.
Stage 2 is the development of an assessment and screening tool (based on the findings of stage 1) to determine ‘readiness for civilian life’. The tool will be used to detect those people that may be at risk of poor adjustment to civilian life before they discharge or as early on as possible following discharge.
Stage 3 is the development of a reintegration training program using applied knowledge from stage 1 & 2, so that those flagged as being at risk can access targeted support.
The Veteran Reintegration Study is a 5 year undertaking, and will continue until 2020, in partnership with RSL (Queensland Branch).
“This project is very much translational with the potential to improve practices and policy across veteran services nationally. We must do better for ex-service personnel who struggle to adjust to civilian life, and this is the first step in preventing this pattern occurring within the next generation of returning and separating service men and women.” said Dr Madeline Romaniuk, leader of the Veteran Mental Health Initiative and senior clinical psychologist.
The Veteran Reintegration Study: Transition from Service to Civilian Life in partnership with RSL Queensland.