Alcohol Consumption and Other Related Factors in Military Veterans Attending College
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Military veterans attending college may encounter difficulties resulting from the clash of military and collegiate cultures. A lack of social support during the military-to- college transition may promote the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with the anxiety of college adjustment. Problematic alcohol use may be one of these coping mechanisms. Previous studies in the general population have found positive correlations between alcohol use, anxiety and poor social support; however, the literature remains sparse with regard to the potential interactions of these variables for military veterans in the college setting. The current study sought to fill this void in the literature by examining alcohol use, anxiety, and social support among military veteran students and their civilian peers. Quantitative analyses were used to determine the ability of anxiety, student group (military veteran or civilian), social support, and their interactions to predict alcohol use among college students, while controlling for age. To enrich these results, a qualitative component was included to better understand collegiate drinking among military veterans and the influences of anxiety and social support on alcohol use. In addition, as an exploratory measure, veterans’ thoughts on improving military services in the university setting were also collected. While anxiety, social support, student group, and their interactions were not significant predictors of alcohol use in quantitative analyses, all of these factors were reflected in the themes that emerged from the qualitative component of the study. Further, qualitative responses suggested that military veterans on campus may benefit from virtual services and/or an expansion of the scheduling of services to better suit students' busy class schedules, as well as their full work and family lives. Taken together, the results of this study have the potential to inform universities in ways that could improve the college experience for military veterans.