The topic of social adaptation of the former military is a unique and significant area in social disciplines. According to Leal and Teigen (2018), service in the U.S. Army allows hiring volunteers, which helps strengthen the armed forces, but the conditions of entering the service do not imply free access for everyone. The author notes that an opportunity to serve is provided either to US citizens or to permanent residents who have received citizenship, and the contract is concluded for a period from 2 to 6 years (Leal & Teigen, 2018). This makes it possible to maintain a sufficient number of military and involve immigrants in helping the country.
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According to the official statistics of 2019, in the United States, about 1,282,000 troops are engaged (“Total available active military manpower,” 2019). At the same time, information on the number of immigrant volunteers is not provided. As the target audience for this study, first-generation Latinos are involved, who have completed military service and moved on to civilian life.
When considering the cases of the former military and their subsequent retirement, Terziev (2018) notes that the former military is in difficult conditions due to such reasons as “information deficit,” hostility, and the inability to get used to a new environment (p. 620). In the case of first-generation Latino immigrants who have served in the US armed forces and remained thereafter its completion, the situation is complicated. This population may face additional challenges because an unfamiliar social environment creates obstacles for interpersonal communication. Therefore, the topic of social adaptation is relevant to modern realities.
Blackburn (2016) also reviews the phenomenon of social adaptation and notes that the transition to civilian life among the military may be difficult due to the lack of supporting resources. In other words, the passiveness of the authorities regarding the issue of assistance to the target population can affect the lives of former soldiers negatively. The author argues that social adaptation is a complex process that requires both time and appropriate assistance (Blackburn, 2016). In case of inattention to this problem, people from the claimed group may experience significant discomfort and even depression.
Acculturation is proposed as the key aspect defining the theme of the study by Kelly (2016). The author uses this term to focus on the problem of the social interaction of former military personnel with the civilian population and does not consider potential health problems. According to Kelly (2016), acculturation is the phenomenon that involves a phased change in worldview under the influence of life in a new social environment. Such a definition makes it possible to understand that personal traditional norms and values can undergo changes.
Pease, Billera, and Gerard (2015) focus on the transition to peaceful life in general and point out that this process is fraught with challenges both in interacting with other people and with loved ones. Long absence and the need to adapt to new living conditions create a barrier that is difficult to overcome without appropriate support (Pease et al., 2015). As a result, a person gets tired psychologically and experiences frequent stress and anxiety, which is undesirable for mental health.
Hachey, Sudom, Sweet, MacLean, and VanTil (2016) also emphasize the importance of social support to former military personnel. In their opinion, a soldier who has certain mental and body health problems feels frightened when caught in an unusual environment (Hachey et al., 2016). Wong (2017) argues that in relation to Latino former military, the situation is complicated by frequent nervous breakdowns, which, for instance, make up 15% of Puerto Rican retired military (p. 2). Thus, this study is confirmed by relevant literary findings that prove the importance of the chosen topic and its practical significance in the context of the proposed problem.
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When conducting the literature review, some gaps in the available information were identified. In particular, regarding the acculturation of first-generation Latino former military, no premises of social adaptation are given. This means that specific cultural background, birthplace, religious beliefs, and other national features are not mentioned as the criteria of the assessment, which is an omission. Also, in addition to health issues, no social aspects are affected. Therefore, this research asks the following question: what challenges of social adaptation do the first-generation Latino community serving in the USA Military experience during the transition into civilian life?
In order to address one target group with its problem of social adaptation after military service, a quantitative study will be conducted. As a background, the phenomenological model will be used since this principle of assessment allows determining the real experiences of the selected class under the influence of changes and from the standpoint of relationships and/or emotions. The data collection mechanism is based on interviews, and the main purpose is to describe the issue deeply by using the facts provided by the target audience.
To make the study unique, the assessment of social adaptation will be based on reviewing immigrants’ experiences. As a concept for analysis, the theory of acculturation proposed by Kelly (2016) will be utilized. According to the author, this phenomenon “refers to the internal processes of change that immigrants experience when they come into direct contact with members of the host culture” (Kelly, 2016, p. 155). The target audience is the former first-generation Latino military who have served in the United States and remained in the country.
Blackburn, D. (2016). Transitioning from military to civilian life: Examining the final step in a military career. Canadian Military Journal, 16(4), 53-61.
Hachey, K. K., Sudom, K., Sweet, J., MacLean, M. B., & VanTil, L. D. (2016). Transitioning from military to civilian life: The role of mastery and social support. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 2(1), 9-18.
Kelly, D. R. (2016). Applying acculturation theory and power elite theory on a social problem: Political underrepresentation of the Hispanic population in Texas. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 38(2), 155-165.
Leal, D. L., & Teigen, J. M. (2018). Military service and political participation in the United States: Institutional experience and the vote. Electoral Studies, 53, 99-110.
Terziev, V. (2018). Building a model of social and psychological adaptation. IJASOS – International E-Journal of Advances in Social Sciences, 4(12), 619-627.
Total available active military manpower by country. (2019). Web.
Pease, J. L., Billera, M., & Gerard, G. (2015). Military culture and the transition to civilian life: Suicide risk and other considerations. Social Work, 61(1), 83-86.