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As mental health providers for military personnel and their families, it is important to understand the military culture within which our clients operate. This section provides an introduction on military culture, including why people choose to join the military, information on different military branches, and military rank structures. For instance:

· The most common reasons Americans volunteer for active duty military service include the desire to belong to a larger cause, opportunities for travel and education, and patriotism.

· Military personnel may serve within the following branches: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. All use different titles (for instance, Army personnel are referred to as soldiers, Air Force as airmen, and Navy as sailors.)

· All of the branches have core values or guiding principles for how the branch operates. For example, the Army's core values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.

· Terms like E-4 or petty officer are common; they refer to military personnels' pay grade and rank. It's important to understand how pay grade and rank affect military personnels' relationships within their units.

The resources below link you to educational training, veterans' experiences and available services.

Alliant International University

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Alliant International University is offering their Post-Combat: Open Access Classes to participants of Give an Hour's Got Your 6 Educational Training Ground. Some of the courses include:

  • Introduction to Military Culture for Clinicians
  • Introduction to Vets Benefits for Clinicians
  • Web Stories: Military Talk focuses on language and culture by presenting special terms and jargon within the narrative context of real stories told by veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

American Psychological Association

APA in box for GY6.pngThe APA has made a "commitment to prepare current and future psychologists to provide evidence-based, culturally competent clinical services as well as to advance scientific knowledge, promote health and train other health professionals in deployment psychology."

Army National Guard Health Website

Guard Your Health provides a central place online for Army National Guard Soldiers and family members to find information and resources on health and medical readiness. The site supports the Army National Guard Chief Surgeon’s efforts to build and sustain a resilient, adaptable and medically ready Citizen-Soldier force. Website visitors can access health tips, expert commentary, and community forums on topics such as nutrition, exercise, stress, sleep, dental health, readiness, and family resilience. Visit the site.

Branch Values

Click on an image to learn more about each branch's unique values.

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Center for Deployment Psychology


The CDP has recently launched a Military Culture for Healthcare Professionals website. It was designed by experts working as a part of a DoD/VA collaborative effort. Up to Eight free CE credits are being offered.

Major Sites for Resources and References on the WEB Prepared by the Center for Deployment Psychology, September 2008.

Department of Veteran Affairs

Dept of VA.pngPTSD 101 has a one hour module on Understanding Military Culture. And a new course on Military Cultural Awareness.

Many providers do not screen new clients for having a military background. Learn how to do this here.

Note: The four modules listed are delivered via VHA TRAIN, a new service to share valuable Veteran-focused continuing medical education at no cost to community health care and public health providers. Dozens of additional Veteran-care training courses will be added to VHA TRAIN throughout 2015.

Military Language

The Department of Defense (DOD) Dictionary contains all approved joint definitions, acronyms, and abbreviations, as amended through 15 August 2012.

The unofficial military glossary is also available. Language is an important part of every culture, to include the military. Official names and acronyms, as well as colorful slang have developed among members of each service branch. Learning some of this terminology cannot only help you understand what service members are talking about, but it can also teach you about the history and culture of the services.

There are innumerable acronyms used in the military community. This link provides some of the most common - acronyms used during written and oral communication.

National Council for Behavioral Health

National Council of Behavioral Health.pngServing Our Veterans Behavioral Health Certificate is comprised of 14 online courses and 20+ hours of continuing education credit. The program is designed to train civilian behavioral health and primary care providers on military orientation and specific issues that affect veterans and their families.

Story Corps

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Story Corps is committed to recording an oral history in America. They recently launched their Military Voices Initiative, which focuses exclusively on military conversations. Listen to short audio clips of stories told by military members, veterans and families describing their experiences since the wars began in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Army

Army 2020.pngIn the publication from the Headquarters of the U.S. Army, Army 2020 Generating Health & Discipline in the Force Ahead of the Strategic Reset, you will find a follow-up to a similar 2010 report. The report comprehensively addresses the health and discipline of the U.S. Army members.

Miscellaneous Resources

Health Net Federal Services information on Military Culture: Health Net Resources

Reading Excerpts

Below is a list of books authored by veterans about their experiences in the military and about topics related to military life.

  1. Dust to Dust: A Memoir by Benjamin Busch
  2. Fobbit by David Abrams
  3. The Snake Eaters by Owen West
  4. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot by Ashley Gilbertson
  5. Here, Bullet by Brian Turner
  6. You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
  7. Joker One by Donovan Campbell
  8. One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick
  9. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powerscontent-divider-blank.png
  10. Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades, Infidels, and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan by Sean Parnell and John Bruning

Military Culture Blogs

Caution: these blogs may include language, discussions, and images that are somewhat shocking. Give an Hour and Got Your 6 do NOT monitor or edit these pages. We are neither responsible for the content, nor do we embrace the opinions contained herein. We share these links to help you look directly into the experiences and lives of those in our military population.

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