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Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Boots for Life: Effectiveness of a Life Skills Intervention for Military and Veteran Students
Author Affiliations
  • University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee
Article Information
Military Rehabilitation / Translational Research
Research Platform   |   July 01, 2015
Boots for Life: Effectiveness of a Life Skills Intervention for Military and Veteran Students
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911520171. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-RP203C
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911520171. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-RP203C
Abstract

Date Presented 4/17/2015

In this study, we present the development and implementation of a life skills intervention program for military and veteran students: Boots for Life. We report results on the effectiveness of the program, implications for revisions, and future plans.

SIGNIFICANCE: The development of life skills programs for targeted populations is a unique skill set of occupational therapists. The Lifestyle Redesign® program is the most well-researched program and has led to the development of similar programs for select populations, such as those with diabetes or multiple sclerosis (http://ot.usc.edu/patient-care/faculty-practice). The Boots for Life program is designed to aid military and veteran students in the transition from the military to college. New college students may have minor difficulties in the transition, but military and veteran students may have major challenges adapting to campus life. These challenges can have dire consequences, as veterans can leave college prematurely or never secure their place in society as civilians and can develop subsequent mental health issues. A recent study identified behavioral health needs related to coping and resilience to prevent development of mental health conditions as a top priority for occupational therapy research with this population.
INNOVATION: The content of the Boots for Life program was developed on the basis of the literature and previous research by the authors and graduate students at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee and was modeled on the Lifestyle Redesign program. Included are activity-based group intervention sessions on time management, assertiveness, healthy alcohol use, stress management, and socialization.
In this study, we attempted to answer the following research question: Does an evidence-based life skills program for military and veteran students improve perceptions of overall health, occupational performance, depression, and stress?
Development of population-specific, evidence-based targeted life skills programs to improve occupational performance and to reduce symptoms is consistent with current practice in occupational therapy for traditional and nontraditional populations.
METHOD: We used a one-group, pretest–posttest design with paper assessments. The setting was an occupational therapy laboratory at an institution. Participants were military and veteran college students, aged 19 to 29 yr, recruited via word-of-mouth, targeted e-mails, and flyers. Measures included a demographic form, the Occupational Self-Assessment, the Medical Outcome Study Short-Form—36 (SF–36), the Perceived Stress Scale, and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies—Depression Scale (CES–Depression). Analytical methods included descriptive statistics and analysis of variance (ANOVA).
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Seven participants completed the four-session intervention program: 6 men and 1 woman with an average age of 24 yr, composed of 4 Caucasians and 3 Hispanics. All service branches were represented, and 5 participants had deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. Although there were not significant differences on the outcome measures, findings revealed relevant areas for more targeted individual intervention (e.g., concentrating on tasks, managing finances, expressing self to others). Participants reported overall satisfaction with the intervention sessions and made suggestions for improvements to better meet the needs of military and veteran students. The primary authors are members of the university’s Veteran Advisory Council, and we will discuss the results of the study in the context of the needs of military and veteran students on a college campus. The program was held in the fall and spring semesters of the 2014–2015 academic year, with results included in the presentation.