Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Ruth (Chu-Lien) Chao, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cynthia McRae

Third Advisor

Jennifer Cornish

Fourth Advisor

Andi Pusavat

Fifth Advisor

Jennifer Caspari


Deployment, Disclosure, Self-compassion, Self-stigma, Trauma, Veteran


Military deployments can contribute to significant changes among the service members who experience them. Particularly regarding traumatic or highly stressful deployment experiences, the potential exists for posttraumatic stress reactions with both detrimental outcomes and beneficial influence. The present study explored this spectrum of reactions through the lenses of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and posttraumatic growth (PTG). Given the well-researched presence of stigma within military culture toward psychological distress, consideration was given to how stigma may influence severity of PTSD and degree of PTG. Rather than focusing on public stigma, the present study explored the possible influence of internalized stigma, known as self-stigma. Specifically, it was hypothesized that higher levels of self-stigma would predict higher severity of PTSD. A mirror hypothesis was that higher levels of self-stigma would predict a decreased degree of PTG. Continuing with a focus on the perspective of the individual deployment veteran, the personal tendency toward concealment or disclosure of psychological distress (distress disclosure) was hypothesized to moderate the predicted relationship of self-stigma with PTSD and PTG. Likewise, the degree to which the deployment veteran has self-compassion was added as a hypothesized moderator of the same relationships. Eighty-one deployment veterans completed a survey comprised of measures of the main variables, demographic information (including military service characteristics), and open-ended questions about the stressfulness of the deployment experience and the ways in which personal growth occurred as a result of the deployment. Results did not support the hypotheses, revealing no significant relationship between self-stigma and PTSD or PTG. Further, the moderations by distress disclosure and self-compassion were not significant. However, the results did support the occurrence of highly stressful deployment experiences for the majority of the participants. Additionally, most perceived that they grew as a result of deploying. Implications of the study for future research and for clinical practice in working with deployment veterans are discussed.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

June Marie Ashley


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

273 p.


Counseling Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Social Psychology