Portraits of Resilience: Same-Sex Military Couples' Experience of Deployment

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Virginia Tech

Research investigating how same-sex military couples conjointly experience the deployment process is absent. This study employed transcendental phenomenological methods (Moustakas, 1994) to explore the lived experiences of same-sex military couples and the deployment process. In-depth, conjoint interviews were conducted with eighteen individuals: five female couples and four male couples, representing four military branches, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Three thematic categories emerged that revealed the essence of the couples' experiences of deployment: deployment experience is context-dependent, challenges associated with sexual minority status, and learned resilience. Though couples experienced a host of unique challenges related to their minority status and restrictive policies, couples developed adaptive coping strategies that served to mediate the impact of distinctive barriers and restrictions. Findings demonstrate the vulnerability and resilience of same-sex military couples during deployment. Political, clinical, and research implications are discussed.

same-sex, LGB, military, couples, deployment, phenomenology, resilience