School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Sharita Knobloch


Deployment, OCONUS, military spouse, coping, stress




The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological qualitative research study was to understand the coping responses of military spouses residing OCONUS during a deployment. Although coping is exhibited, deployments and OCONUS relocations can impact military spouses' physical and emotional well-being. The theory guiding this study was Lazarus and Folkman’s (1984) transactional model of stress and coping related to the central research question: How do OCONUS military spouses describe their coping experiences during deployment? The sub-questions addressed: How do OCONUS military spouses describe the role of self-care practices, social connections, and availability of resources during deployment? Criterion sampling was used to select military spouses who experienced deployment while residing OCONUS. Following the transcendental phenomenological methodology and grounded in a social constructivism framework, 15 participants were interviewed utilizing a semi-structured interview format. The data was analyzed using Moustakas’s approach, which involved bracketing, transcendental-phenomenological reduction, imaginative variation, and synthesis of composite textural and composite structural descriptions. Through analysis, three themes and twelve subthemes were revealed. Themes included 1) experiencing domestic, relational, environmental, physical, emotional, and social stressors, 2) identifying methods for coping with stressors, and 3) expressing self-awareness, inner strength, and positive outlook for future deployments. Results indicate that OCONUS military spouses utilize proactive coping strategies and note enhanced resiliency from confronting challenges. The findings of this study have practical implications, highlight the need for future research, and provide insight into the deployment experience for military spouses OCONUS.

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