Backpacking Veterans: Exploring Sense of Belonging, Happiness, and Stress-Coping
Keywords:veterans, college, backpacking, belonging, happiness
U.S. military veterans attend college in increasing numbers, yet, often without a sense of attachment to their university. This mixed-methods exploratory study examined sense of belonging, happiness, and stress-coping outcomes for student veterans (N = 9) participating in a backpacking event. Results indicate the treatment group’s happiness level improved significantly over the control group, t(7) = 2.80, p = .027. Treatment group scores also improved on stress-coping, t(7) = 1.56, p = .163, and sense of belonging, t(7) = 2.28, p = .056; however, results were not statistically significant. The backpackers attributed increases in social belonging and happiness to the following elements of the trip: social support, stress coping, physical benefits, and camping skills. Although further quantitative research is indicated using larger and more diverse participant groups, findings from this study support the use of outdoor programming with veteran college students.
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