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"We Are Disaster Response Experts": A Qualitative Study on the Mental Health Impact of Volunteering in Disaster Settings Among Combat Veterans.
Kranke D, Weiss EL, Heslin KC, Dobalian A. "We Are Disaster Response Experts": A Qualitative Study on the Mental Health Impact of Volunteering in Disaster Settings Among Combat Veterans. Social work in public health. 2017 Sep 6; 1-10.
Volunteers serving in a disaster context may experience harmful mental health effects that could impede rescue operations. Exploratory research suggests that combat veterans who volunteer in Team Rubicon (TR)-a disaster relief social service organization with the mission of uniting the skills and experiences of military Veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams-have positive mental health responses when providing disaster relief. The objective of this qualitative study was to identify those nuances associated with combat veterans' mental health response in TR. The study consisted of (N = 9) male combat Veterans who volunteered with TR. Data was thematically analyzed. Results suggested that members did not experience negative mental health effects because of prior military training and preparedness relevant to disaster situations. Positive outcomes in mental health were associated with the uniqueness of peer support in TR and applying skills from military training. Veterans in TR reported that providing disaster relief afforded them the opportunity to continue serving others after having served in the military. Implications for public health social work are discussed as well as the need for further research.