Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Joseph F. Burkard DNSc, CRNA, Chairperson; Jane M. Georges PhD, RN, Committee Member; Robert Topp PhD, RN, Committee Member


Discharge, Military, Reintegration, Transition, Veteran


BACKGROUND: Hundreds of thousands of Veterans have restricted Veteran benefits due to their character of discharge (COD). There are triple the number of “Other Than Honorable” COD since WW II and VA’s stringent guidelines in disbursing benefits leave many without benefits. Known as Veterans with “bad papers”, this population is over represented in Veteran homelessness, suicide, PTS, TBI, depression, anxiety, Military Sexual Assault and other health conditions.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to explore the life experiences of prior service members with various COD and how it impacted Veteran reintegration into the civilian community.

METHODS: This study explored the lived experiences of 16 Veterans with restricted benefits. This study utilizing the Neuman system model, as guide to exploring five interactive person variables. Data collection utilized an online questionnaire and interviews. Analysis of the interviews were guided by an existential phenomenological methodology.

RESULTS: Previous negative life experiences directly cause significant amount of system instability resulting from stressors assaulting the normal Lines of Defense. This population revealed negative life events leading to the military discharge. Stigma as a stressor appears to have the highest potential for disturbing the Veterans reintegration, further placing the population at even higher risk for physical, psychological, sociocultural, developmental, and spiritual detriment after discharge.

CONCLUSION: “Bad papers” are the primary barrier to growth and development in the reintegration into the civilian community by causing perceived/ actual barriers and limiting access to secondary and tertiary preventions.

Document Type

Dissertation: USD Users Only