Depression Vulnerability and Resilience Among Service Members and Veterans


Coppola, Elizabeth C (2022). Depression Vulnerability and Resilience Among Service Members and Veterans.


Post-9/11 military service have been marked by a surge in large-scale combat deployments, characterized by deployments that are longer, with shorter periods of ‘dwell time’, and with a high reliance on the reserve component. Many service members and veterans (SMV) demonstrated resilience during this era by adapting successfully to these demands, meanwhile others experienced difficulty coping with stress and deployment-related exposures at some point. Limitations in existing research—including observations from single time points without the benefit of prospective data—complicates the understanding of the impact of military experience, as an early adult turning point, on well-being. The overarching goal of this study is to contribute to the literature assessing the impact of military service on depression trajectories across the transition into adulthood and into mid-life. This dissertation found that SMVs had lower depression symptoms prior to and at the time of enlistment, relative to civilians, before increasing later in life. Differences between civilians’ and SMVs’ depression trajectories narrowed after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, although SMVs had lower levels of depression than civilians from their 20s into their early 30s. Childhood risk and resilience factors significantly explained variance above and beyond sociodemographic factors for both SMVs and civilians across configurations (i.e., unique and cumulative models), with resilience factors in the family domain yielding particularly large effects with depression trajectories for both SMVs and civilians. Collectively these findings point to the potential for military service to function as a social determinant of health, the family domain as a key target for prevention and intervention, the continued relevance of resilience factors in the face of risk, and the need for the continued study of risk and resilience throughout the life course.




Reference Type


Book Title

Human Development and Family Studies


Coppola, Elizabeth C

Series Author(s)

Christ, S.L.

Year Published


Volume Number



Purdue University Graduate School



Reference ID