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Psychol Serv. 2018 May;15(2):154-162. doi: 10.1037/ser0000176.

It's not just showing up: How social identification with a veterans service organization relates to benefit-finding and social isolation among veterans.

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Kogod School of Business, American University.
F. Edward H├ębert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University.


Social identity theory suggests that the degree to which people identity with an organizational group can have multiple beneficial outcomes. This research focuses on how membership in and engagement with a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) relate to veterans' social isolation and perceptions that military service was beneficial to society, ultimately leading to improved veterans' health. Data from an online survey of 444 military veterans show that physical attendance and the degree to which veterans identify identification with the VSO play different roles in improving veterans' lives. Not only is VSO attendance linked to reduced social isolation but social isolation is further reduced when members both attend and feel strong social identification with the VSO. The degree to which veterans identify with the VSO is also directly linked to greater perceptions of benefit-finding from military service, even for those who do not physically partake in the VSO's activities. Lesser isolation and greater benefit-finding are related to lower levels of posttraumatic stress symptomology. The results suggest that VSOs may be integrated into new approaches to assist veterans' transition from military into civilian life. (PsycINFO Database Record.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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