The Role of Music in the Combat Experiences of OEF/OIF Veterans

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Smith, Krystine
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, many military personnel served multiple, extensive deployments as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Though music has always had a role within the military, the OEF/OIF generation of service members has had much greater access to music than any of their predecessors due to technological advancements. The purpose of this ethnographic study was to explore the role of music in combat experiences of OEF/OIF to inform music therapists and other professionals working with this population. This thematic study used a descriptive, qualitative survey featuring a mixture of opened and closed-ended questions relating to music and their combat experiences. Eighteen OEF/OIF veterans participated in this research study. Participants reported using music for escaping or coping, motivation, focus, music making, relaxation, and mood improvement during deployment. Participants reported having positive and neutral associations with the music they listened to during deployment.