Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-8-2020


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Simms, Eva-Maria

Committee Member

Goicoechea, Jessie

Committee Member

Hook, Derek


Veterans, African American, Masculinity, Social Connectedness, Race, Gender


This research project examines the experience of African American male veterans’ social connections with other veterans. Social connection has been found to be a key factor in promoting positive health outcomes and overall well-being. In addition, social connection involves not only a sense of being connected to others but can also include feelings of exclusion. Given the increasing health disparities of between African American and White men, and of our nation’s veteran population, greater attention to factors that promote well-being are essential. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the lived experiences of social connection of African American male veterans from the post-9/11 era. The study included in-depth interviews with four African American male veterans. In keeping with hermeneutic phenomenology, the study sought to explore the experience and meaning of African American male social connections, both during their time when enlisted in the military, and subsequently as veterans. While other studies have looked at social connection among family units, this study addressed social connections between veterans. To date no research has examined post-9/11 African American or Black men’s experience of social connection. Through the analysis six themes were identified: Racial Tension and Support, Striving against a Racialized Black Body, Hopeful Future through Possible Change, Security in Social Connection, Masculinity, and Power dynamics in the military and as veterans.