Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Nancy Carbonell

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Dennis Waite


Problem Statement

Military members and their family members who are part of the Global War on Terrorism have experienced deployments and war for over sixteen years and with the resulting toll on both the veteran and their intimate partner. As a result, higher levels of pathology, such as PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression have been experienced by this population. While research has studied the effect of combat on military members, very little research has addressed the effects on family members. Further, no research that has been found by this researcher, has addressed the concept of resonating of pathology between the combat veteran and their intimate partner. Resonating of Pathology, or resonating pathology, for the purposes of this study, is the combat veteran and the intimate partner demonstrating the same pathology at similar levels. The Veteran’s Healthcare Services have begun to treat couples together and may have also witnessed this phenomenon. Understanding the relationship between combat, veteran pathology, and intimate partner pathology will have implications for practitioners and researchers. Understanding the factors that related to this phenomenon will have implications for both clinicians and researchers.


Veterans and their intimate partners from across the United States, (N = 398), were asked to complete a survey through the internet. The couples were asked to complete the survey separately, however, within the same session so that their results could be tied together. The veterans were asked to complete the Combat Exposure Scale (CES), the PTSD Check List for the DSM 5 (PCL–5), the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ–9), and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7 (GAD–7). The intimate partners were asked to complete the PCL–5, the PHQ–9, and the GAD–7.


Results suggest that there was a moderate relationship between combat experience and pathology for combat veterans. While other factors were examined to determine what was included to predict pathology within the veteran, combat experience seemed to be the primary factor for predicting PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression in the combat veteran.

Results also suggested that there was a relationship between the pathology of combat veterans and the pathology their intimate partners, as measured in this research. Not only was there resonating, or resonating of pathology, within the couples, but this tended to occur within categories of pathology such as moderate and severe levels of Anxiety and Depression. While multiple factors such as frequency of communications, number of children, and types of communication were examined, combat experiences tended to be the primary factor for predicting pathology in both the veteran and the intimate partner.


Combat veterans and their intimate partners appear to be experiencing the phenomenon of resonating, or resonating, of pathology. Couple-analysis demonstrates that this phenomenon is being experienced as a couple and suggests that could have implications for future research and clinical practice. Demographic factors did not seem to influence the pathology for either the veteran or their partner. Combat experience does, however, seem to be a predictor for pathology in not only the veteran but also for the intimate partner as well.

Subject Area

Veterans--Medical care; Veterans' spouses--Psychological aspects; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Anxiety disorders; Depression