Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Psychology (Counseling Psychology)

First Advisor

Lisa M Larson


The present study investigated the well-being of student veterans and service members (SVSMs), a rapidly-growing subpopulation of college students in the U.S. with unique needs and lived experiences, through the lens of Self-Determination Theory (SDT). SDT posits that contextual factors relate to well-being via perceived satisfaction of three basic psychological needs (i.e., competence, autonomy, and relatedness) and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation. A path model tested these SDT-stipulated relations in a sample of 182 SVSMs from the three Regent universities in Iowa, incorporating four SVSM-specific contextual factors (i.e., Office of veterans and military services (OVMS) support, veteran-friendly campus perception, veteran identity centrality, and positive regard for veteran identity). The model yielded a good fit; however, not all of the hypothesized relations were significant. Veteran-friendly campus perception and positive regard for veteran identity emerged as robust direct predictors of psychological need satisfaction and indirect predictors of well-being (i.e., globally and specific to the academic domain). OVMS support had a significant relationship only with perceived relatedness, and veteran identity centrality did not have significant direct or indirect relations with any of the psychological needs or well-being. Perceived competence was a robust mediator of multiple relations between contextual factors and well-being, and perceived relatedness also mediated some of the relations between contextual factors and well-being. The predictive utility of volitional autonomy and academic intrinsic motivation was not supported in the present study. Conclusions, implications, and future directions for research are discussed.


Copyright Owner

Matthew Timothy Seipel



File Format


File Size

166 pages