ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Donna L Schuman


Upon examining combat veterans’ psychological responses to combat-related trauma, two emerged for consideration: posttraumatic growth (PTG) through making meaning out of a traumatic experience and a positive outcome or change, and posttraumatic depreciation (PTD) an inability to make meaning of a traumatic experience and a negative outcome or change. Understanding how PTG and PTD converge, diverge, and impact an individual is crucial in supporting a veteran’s journey to health and well-being. A comparative study of the cases of two Marine combat veterans who served during OEF/OIF offers numerous similarities: both are in the millennial cohort; both are part of a group becoming the fastest-growing rate of death by suicide in our Nation’s history; both served extended tours; both experienced combat trauma; both experienced posttraumatic stress; both experienced challenges with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system; both experienced challenges with substance use upon their return home; both struggled to reintegrate back into civilian life; and both became fathers. However, their outcomes to trauma were radically different. One Marine expanded, grew, and persisted in a thriving life. In contrast, one Marine declined, depreciated, and terminated in a suicide death. Since individuals typically report PTG and PTD following a traumatic event as independent experiences, different processes leading to growth and depreciation infer distinct underlying variables. In sum, “the well-being, or sense of life meaning, a person experiences after dealing with a stressful event can best be understood by understanding both the growth and the depreciation the person has experienced” (Cann et al., 2010, p. 164).


Posttraumatic growth, Posttraumatic depreciation, Suicide, Veterans, Military


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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