Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Military service is an important school of training and one of the largest employers in the U.S., functioning as a major turning point in the lives of millions of American individuals. Whether serving in the military has a beneficial or a detrimental impact on individuals’ tendencies to engage in deviant behaviors has long been discussed and empirical studies have presented inconsistent results. In addition, research examining the interplay between military service, deviance, and mental health has generally focused on the service in a combat zone or during wartime and centered upon certain types of deviance and mental health problems. Addressing these limitations in previous research, this study intends to reveal: (1) trajectories of mental health and deviance from adolescence through adulthood among American individuals, (2) whether serving in the U.S. military in young adulthood moderates these trajectories, and (3) whether any of these relationships change by race, gender, and parental education. To achieve these objectives, it draws upon data from National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (ADD Health) and utilizes multilevel growth curve modeling as the statistical strategy. The relationship between military service and deviance, on the other hand, may operate differently in a conscription military system in which military service is compulsory for a particular group of people (e.g. men). From this point of view, this study examines deviant behaviors and their mental health-related determinants among a sample of conscripts in Turkish Armed Forces. It utilizes a unique dataset from Mehmetcik Survey and uses multilevel negative binomial model as the statistical strategy. Results of the study revealed that military service resulted in a decline in rates of deviance among both Turkish and the U.S. sample, while it led to higher levels of psychological distress for the U.S. service-members. In addition, mental health problems and exposure to certain stressors during service were significant predictors of deviance among Turkish conscripts. Results of this dissertation suggest that, even though it may cause increasing rates of mental health problems, military service—in an AVF system as well as a conscription system—constitutes a beneficial turning point in an individual’s deviant career.



Committee Chair

Walker, Mark H.



Available for download on Friday, March 28, 2025