Life Meaning Following Combat Among Air Force Security Forces Personnel

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An active duty Air Force ground combat unit (n = 189) completed surveys about trauma and combat exposure, mood symptoms, and meaning in life. Two dimensions of deployment-related traumas were assessed: combat (e.g., firing weapons, being fired upon) and aftermath (e.g., seeing dead bodies, injury). Results of regression analyses indicated that Airmen who experienced more intense combat reported less presence of meaning in life, although the significant interaction with gender suggested declines in meaning in life were especially pronounced among males with higher combat intensity. In contrast, more intense aftermath exposure was associated with slightly stronger meaning in life, with no differences by gender. Intensity of combat exposure might differentially affect perceived meaning in life for male versus female combatants.

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