Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Date of Award




Degree Level


LCSH subject

Marital psychotherapy; Family psychotherapy; Veterans -- Psychology; Peer counseling -- Veterans; Veterans -- Social networks

Proquest Document ID





St. Mary's University (San Antonio, Tex.)

Document Type


First Advisor

Ratliff, Dan


Of the 20 million US Veterans, approximately 30% receive health care benefits from the Veterans Affairs system. Research confirms that these Veterans are less likely to seek professional mental health services as a result of a belief that mental illness equates with weakness. Research on peer support with Veterans suggests that Veteran social networks reduce stigma and facilitate help seeking behavior. Most studies on Veteran help seeking for mental health services use subjects who receive health care from the Veterans Health Administration or Department of Defense. The purpose of the current study is to gain an understanding of Veterans who are outside of the VA health care network; specifically, how their social networks influence help seeking for mental health symptoms. This study will examine the relative influence of stigma and social networks on a Veteran’s help seeking behavior. The research findings indicate that Veterans in the cohort perceived greater stigma related to talking to a counselor (M = 3.07; SD = 1.17) than [talking to] a fellow Veteran (M = 2.90; SD = 0.68). Also, the researcher established that the size of a Veteran’s network of Veteran peers (M =2.49, SD=3.23) was significantly smaller than that of their civilian [network of] peers (M =10.52, SD=7.39). The research found that the size of a Veteran’s social network was a significant and a positive predictor of health seeking behavior among the Veterans.

Keywords: peer support, help seeking, Veteran social network, social network diversity

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.