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How Do Combat-Experienced Junior Officers Describe Transitioning to a Non-Combat Garrison Army? A Phenomenological Study of Job Transition Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationHow Do Combat-Experienced Junior Officers Describe Transitioning to a Non-Combat Garrison Army? A Phenomenological Study of Job Transition This phenomenological study investigated the job transition experience of a unique cohort of young Americans -- combat-experienced US Army Junior Officers. The inquiry focused on Junior Officers in the grade of Captain and Major and their negotiation of the transition terrain while attending to the organizational demands of the military culture. The Junior Officers' narratives provided insight into what the transition was like and to the factors that contributed to their successful transition. A qualitative research method was selected as the most appropriate method to explore and understand the transition phenomenon. The population for this phenomenological inquiry was purposefully sampled using a criterion-based selection. The fourteen participants were selected to assist the researcher understand the phenomenon. The criteria for the population included: less than 10 years of service; at least two combat tours; at least one leadership position in combat; and, not contemplating leaving the Army. Each participant was interviewed in one 90-minute face-to-face interview using the Kvale and Brinkmann's (2009) interview structure to assist in shaping the interviews and drawing out the responses from the participants. The interviews were analyzed using Moustakas' (1994) phenomenological analysis method. The transition experience was illuminated by fashioning textural and structural descriptions from the participants' interview narratives and synthesizing the composite textural-structural descriptions into meanings and essences of the phenomenon as a whole. The study offers the following conclusions:1. The experience of combat shaped the participant's sense of self and allowed them to more readily handle the transition challenges; 2. Transitions are as much a part of the Army as wearing a uniform;3. Hardiness and resilience were critical individual traits that the Junior Officers possessed in abundance; and 4. Transitions are not individual events-- they are a team sport. The conclusions that emerged from the research bolster the transition concepts underpinning Bridges (1980, 2001, 2003, 2004), Schlossberg (1981, 2008) and Hudson (1999) ideas. Ashforth's (2001) global identity construct was strengthened with the significance that combat experience had on the Junior Officers sense of self-worth and the concomitant increase with their identification with the values, norms and behaviors of the US Army.

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