Elizabeth A. Stanley and Kelsey Larsen. “Difficulties with Emotion Regulation in the Contemporary U.S. Armed Forces: Structural Contributors and Potential Solutions.” Armed Forces and Society, Vol. 47, no. 1 (2021): 77-105. doi:10.1177/0095327X19848018
The ability to regulate negative emotions is especially necessary for service members in the contemporary U.S. armed forces, since they routinely face situations that elicit negative emotions while executing their professional roles. Yet difficulties with regulating emotions, which are associated with stress and mood disorders, suicidality, and impairments in work performance, remain prevalent across this group. This article surveys research in five domains—recruitment and selection effects, military cultural pressures and coping strategies, training, common chronic stressors, and the contemporary operational environment—to highlight structural contributors to the heavy stress loads that U.S. service members often bear, which may contribute to their difficulty with emotion regulation (ER). It concludes with several recommendations that the military could implement to mitigate service members’ stress loads and facilitate ER. Enhancing their ER skills may offer a long-term strategy to improve their resilience and performance.