‘There’s no club, absolutely nothing’: Experiences of parents of Veterans living with illnesses and injuries in Canada

Linna Tam-Seto*, Deborah Norris, Melissa Richardson, Rachael Gribble, Nicola Fear, Heidi Cramm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Research and programs for Veteran families often target those with young children, leaving parents of adult children overlooked, despite the role some adopt to support adult children following military-acquired illnesses or injuries. The objective of this study was to lay groundwork in studying the experiences of parents of Veterans through an initial exploration of parents of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Veterans living with operational stress injuries (OSI). Methods: A phenomenological approach was used to create rich, thick narratives focusing on experiences and meanings, collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with 15 parents of CAF Veterans with OSI. Interpretive phenomenological analysis was done during data collection. Rigour was enhanced through reflexive practices and team debriefing. Results: Six themes described parents’ experiences: 1) being exasperated by persistent, dynamic, and unanticipated demands for instrumental support, 2) living in a constant state of worry and guilt about their adult children, 3) feeling at a loss for what to do and where to go for support, 4) dealing with consequences to their own health and well-being, 5) wreaking havoc on relationships, and 6) being left to pick up the pieces alone. Discussion: Parents of CAF Veterans living with OSI described feeling forgotten, despite significant costs in supporting their children. This exploration invites several future research directions, including a more in-depth exploration of the caregiving role parents may adopt, implementation of a family-centred circle of care, help when navigating the system, connection with other families, psychoeducation, and increasing public awareness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-139
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Military, Veteran and Family Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Canadian Armed Forces
  • family-centred
  • lived experience
  • operational stress injury


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