HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Success in life after service: A perspective on conceptualizing the well-being of military Veterans

Article

Military members want to do well when they leave service. Good well-being is one way of thinking about success in the transition to life after service. The word well-being has different meanings to different people, which can be confusing. To help Veterans, it must be clearly defined. Some see well-being as something inside a person; others see it as how people are doing in the outside world. People can have poorer or better well-being in many areas of life, not just in how they feel. This article describes a way of thinking about well-being that can work for different purposes.

Abstract

Well-being has emerged in Canada, the United States, and other nations as a key strategic objective in supporting military members and their families during and after transition to life after military service. However, lack of an explicit conceptualization of well-being hampers Veterans’ policy and program development and evaluation, service provision, and research. This article offers a perspective that embraces many ways of conceptualizing well-being, including both internal and external aspects of well-being. The authors describe a flexible, multi-domain conceptualization approach that preserves internal conceptualizations, allows for external conceptualizations of well-being in multiple domains of life, and attends to social determinants of health. In this conceptualization, health is subordinate to well-being, along with other relevant life domains such as employment, finances, life skills, social integration, physical environment, and cultural and social environments. Viewing well-being as a multi-domain concept offers a holistic approach that can resolve ambiguities in the use of relevant terminology (e.g., health, wellness, quality of life, or flourishing). Context-specific well-being concepts for specified scopes (individual, population, community, or region) can be derived for different purposes. Principles for conceptualizing and measuring multi-domain well-being are discussed to aid Veterans and their families in living well after service.

Full Reference

Thompson, James M., Vogt,Dawne., and Pedlar, David. (2022) Success in life after service: A perspective on conceptualizing the well-being of military Veterans. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health. https://doi.org/10.3138/jmvfh-2021-0037