Brief Peer-Support Cognitive Behavioral Intervention For Military Life Transitions (Mil-iTransition) Following Medical And Physical Evaluation Boards
Principal Investigator: 

Marjan Holloway

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Life transitions are to be expected during one’s military career. One notable, and often stressful, military life transition involves the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) and subsequent Physical Evaluation Board (PEB). Service members with physical and/or mental health conditions that may disrupt his or her duty are referred to the MEB, this board determines whether or not a service member is “fit for duty”. Service members found fit are retained in the military, those that are found unfit are separated. Regardless of positive or negative thoughts and emotions underlying the MEB, it can be stressful. To date, the experiences of service members who have gone through these evaluation processes have not been explored but death reviews performed within the DoD have indicated that some of the suicide decedents had exposure to this type of transitional life change. Dr. Holloway hopes to gain knowledge on how targeted psychosocial interventions can reduce potential negative consequences of military life transitions.

To help military members through these transitions, Dr. Holloway is interested in the role peers could play. Peers who have undergone MEB and PEB processes in the past, despite not having mental health training, may have the greatest understanding of and empathy towards service members currently going through such transitions. Given the promises of peer support during stressful life circumstances, Dr. Holloway plans to develop and pilot test a peer-support, adjunctive cognitive-behavioral intervention, Mil-iTransition, for military service members after they have been found “unfit” for service by a MEB. This peer-based approach is a “win-win” for both the transitioning service member and the veteran peer mentor. This intervention will provide service members transitioning to civilian life following a MEB and PEB with a low-intensity, peer-delivered cognitive-behavioral intervention that has the potential to provide early behavioral health support, ease the transition process, and mitigate suicide risk.