Supporting Servicemembers and Veterans During Their Transition to Civilian Life Using Certified Sponsors: A Three-Arm Randomized Controlled Trial

“Transitioning servicemembers and veterans (TSMVs) face difficulties throughout their reintegration to civilian life, including challenges with employment, poor social connection, and elevated risk for suicide. To meet the needs of this high-risk population, national initiatives have leveraged community-based interventions. Authors conducted a three-arm randomized controlled trial (n = 200) to evaluate two community-based interventions. The first, Team Red, White, and Blue (RWB), connects TSMVs to their community through physical/social activities. The second, Expiration Term of Service Sponsorship Program (ETS-SP) provides one-on-one certified sponsors to TSMVs who provide support during the reintegration process. TSMVs were assessed at baseline, 3, 6, and 12 months. The primary hypothesis was not supported as reintegration difficulties and social support were not significantly different for participants randomly assigned to the two community-based interventions (Arm-2/RWB and Arm-3/RWB + ETS-SP), when the data from the separate arms were collapsed and combined, compared to the wait list. The results did support the secondary hypothesis as Arm-3/RWB + ETS-SP had less reintegration difficulties over 12 months and initially had more social support compared to Arm-2/ RWB, which suggest that augmenting interventions with sponsors outperforms participation in community-based interventions alone. Overall, the results show some limitations of the studied community-based interventions, as implemented, and researched within this study. The authors identified factors that may have contributed to the null findings for the primary hypothesis, which can be addressed in future studies, such as addressing the unique needs of TSMVs, enrolling TSMVs into interventions prior to military discharge, measuring and improving participation levels, and providing stepped-care interventions based on risk levels.”

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