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Kranke D, Weiss EL, June G, Der-Martirosian C, Constantine Brown JL, Saia R, Dobalian A. A "Culture of Compassionate Bad Asses": A Qualitative Study of Combat Veterans Engaging in Peer-Led Disaster Relief and Utilizing Cognitive Restructuring to Mitigate Mental Health Stigma. Best practices in mental health. 2017 Jan 1; 13(1):20-33.
This exploratory qualitative study describes combat veterans engaged in peer-based disaster relief efforts through their volunteer participation in Team Rubicon, their use of thought restructuring strategies to promote flexible and adaptive thinking within a peer-supportive environment, and the impact of these strategies on mental health stigma reduction. The findings of this qualitative study demonstrate nuances in the ways that combat veterans engage in thought restructuring in an informal and peer-supportive environment that is similar to military experience but without the confines of the military. This study's findings also suggest that veterans may be able to successfully and independently use thought restructuring themselves or through their peer support to mitigate perceptions of stigma. The limitations include the participants' self-selection in the study and the fact that not all combat veterans may react positively to thought restructuring, particularly without the guidance of a mental health practitioner. Large-scale studies need to evaluate whether thought restructuring in a peer-led setting is effective among combat veterans in clinical settings to help guide best practices in stigma reduction and enhance help-seeking behaviors in military and veteran populations.