Military Childhood Experiences and the Concept of Home in Adulthood: A Heuristic Arts-Based Study

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Gunkel, Megan
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This heuristic study investigated the implications of growing up as a military kid (MK) on the researcher’s sense of home and belonging in adulthood. The study was guided by the question, “How can the researcher use art to create a cohesive perception of home and belonging in adulthood, after growing up as a military kid?” Current literature examines a) military culture, b) military families’ (MFs) wellbeing and stressors, c) developmental theories, d) current treatment, and e) art therapy interventions. However, little research examines how MKs are affected in adulthood regarding their sense of home and belonging. This study was conducted in three stages, which incorporated the use of personal photos, adapted Sense of Belonging Instrument (SOBI) questionnaires, visual and written journal entries, and the creation of a quilt. Four major themes that emerged related to the researcher’s sense of home and belonging were (a) fragmentation (b) military culture (c) internal versus external experiences and (d) mental health throughout those three major themes. Future recommendations include using the art directives within this study to assist population(s) with high rates of residential mobility in shifting from a fragmented narrative of home and belonging to a cohesive narrative.