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

Following Medical and Physical Evaluation Boards Mil-iTransition is a peer-based intervention that (1) focuses on generating lessons learned from transition stories and (2) targets cognitions, coping, and safety. A protocol for the delivery of Mil-iTransition will be developed and pilot tested among service members with medical and physical evaluation board experiences

Transitioning from active duty status back to civilian life can be stressful. This transition may be especially difficult to navigate after going through the Medical and Physical Evaluation Boards (MEBs and PEBs) and receiving an “unfit for duty” notice. These service members, who are ultimately recommended for separation from service, may have different expectations – some may welcome this outcome as a way to transition out of the military, while others may wish to be retained. Regardless of positive or negative thoughts and emotions underlying the MEB and PEB determination, the process can be stressful, and some service members may doubt their ability, identity, and value. To date, the experiences of service members who have gone through these evaluation processes have not been explored. However, Department of Defense (DoD) suicide death reviews indicate that some service members had exposure to this type of transition prior to death. 

To reduce potential negative consequences of being found “unfit for duty” and to support transitioning service members recommended for separation, Dr. Holloway and her team are working to understand service members’ experiences with the evaluation boards and develop a targeted, peer-delivered program to support transitioning service members. Peers who have prior experience with the MEB and PEB processes may have the greatest understanding of and empathy towards service members currently going through such transitions. Thus, the ultimate goal of this project is to develop and pilot test a low-intensity, peer-delivered cognitive behavioral intervention, Mil-iTransition, for active duty service members who have been recommended for separation by the evaluation boards. Providing peer support during this transition has the potential to ease the transition process, provide early behavioral health support, and mitigate suicide risk. Active duty service members who are under pressure to navigate through complex administrative processes can receive guided support by Veterans who themselves have overcome similar challenges, while Veterans may also experience mental health benefits associated with providing support.