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Silenced Voices that Cry in the Night: The Transformative Experience of Spouses of Wounded Warriors - Is it Transformative Learning? A Phenomenological Study Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationSilenced Voices That Cry In the Night: The Transformative Experience of Spouses of Wounded Warriors -Is it Transformative Learning?A Phenomenological StudyThis study sought to better understand the transformative nature or essence of the experiences of spouses of junior to midgrade enlisted soldiers wounded in combat during the Global War on Terror, how they learned to make meaning of their new life circumstances as a result of profound and dramatic changes in their lives as they struggle with the added responsibility of caring for their wounded warrior amid tremendously increased responsibilities of leading and managing their households, and, from a practical perspective, how society can better support them. Within the framework of a qualitative approach, this study lays at the theoretical intersection of transformative learning and the feminist-inspired theory of women's development. The study population included fifteen spouses of junior to mid-grade enlisted wounded warriors. The women represented a diverse group of African American, Hispanic, and Caucasian spouses from nine different geographical locations with a median age of 37.6. Their soldiers were injured in combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Syria, or Kuwait. The study used a modified version of Seidman's interview protocol; each participant was interviewed twice using open-ended questions. The study found that (a) commitment was the essence of the spouses' transformative experience; (b) the women's transformation was not a linear, rational approach as outlined in the preponderance of the existing transformative literature; (c) there is an alternative perspective on the development level of enlisted spouses in this contemporary environment; (d) the women's epistemology was context-based and depended on the challenge or situation to be resolved; (e) the women had to fight against the institutional constraints that silenced them as they negotiated for a more inclusive involvement in their soldiers' care and well-being; (f) their resistance to the institution served as catalysts for transformation within the institutions; and (g) despite their personal challenges, their transformed perspective propelled them to strive to translate their moral commitments into action out of a feeling of responsibility to their wounded warrior community.  

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