Research Article  |   January 2013
Occupational Performance Needs of Young Veterans
Author Affiliations
  • Heidi Lynn Plach, MS, OTR, is Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Technology, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201; bertrahl@uwm.edu
  • Carol Haertlein Sells, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, is Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Technology, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Article Information
Mental Health / Military Rehabilitation / Mental Health
Research Article   |   January 2013
Occupational Performance Needs of Young Veterans
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2013, Vol. 67, 73-81. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.003871
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2013, Vol. 67, 73-81. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.003871
Abstract

OBJECTIVE. We examined the occupational performance issues facing young U.S. veterans (aged 20–29 yr) who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perceived challenges in occupational performance, the most common mental health and brain injuries of war, and motivations for participation in daily occupations upon return to civilian life were identified.

METHOD. Thirty young veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were interviewed using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (Law et al., 2005). They were also screened for posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, major depression, and alcohol abuse or dependency.

RESULTS. The top five occupational performance challenges were engagement in relationships, school, physical health, sleeping, and driving. The health conditions screened positive for 23%–77% of respondents.

CONCLUSION. This study identified challenges faced by today’s young veterans when reintegrating into the community and daily life. Strategies for occupational therapy practitioners to aid veterans in community reintegration are discussed.