Alumnus Spotlight: Major Pedro Oblea, PhD, RN

Feb. 14, 2018

US Army Nurse Scientist and UA College of Nursing Alumnus Receives Funding to Study LGBTQ Military Service Member Experience

An active duty military officer for nearly 15 years, Major Pedro Oblea, PhD, RN, completed his PhD at the UA College of Nursing in December 2014. A nurse scientist keenly interested in the domestic situations of active duty service members, his dissertation examined the effects of short-term separation on the behavioral health of military wives. His research into issues like depression, stress, social support, and marital relationships led to his latest study, Exploring LGBTQ Military Service Members Stressors and Lived Experiences. Thanks to a two-year $200,000 grant from TriService Nursing Research Program (TSNRP), he and his team are about to embark on a groundbreaking investigation into the experiences and challenges impacting the health and readiness of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) military service members.

What is the main question of your investigation?

My overall goal is to understand lived experiences, associated stressors and social support impacting the health and readiness of the LGBTQ military service members. Initially, I intended to examine the lived experiences and stressors of same-sex couples in the military. But since that population is relatively small, I decided to broaden the study to include the experiences and stress factors faced by the LGBTQ military community.

What makes this study particularly unique?

There are a lot of studies about the difficulty the LGBTQ in the civilian population has in accessing health care, but this is the first study of its kind with the military. Data was hard to access until the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2011. With the military recognizing LGBTQ and same-sex couples, for the first time, it was an opportunity to register as couples for our healthcare insurance. Before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, same-sex couples weren’t part of the conversation. Now, the partner actually gets a dependent military ID. It’s a big deal that they can access healthcare.

How will this project build better futures?

My hope is that this study will be the basis for the future creation of military health care policy to take care of LGBTQ in the military. The results will guide or help the military policymakers to improve health care policies that will affect the LGBTQ population because the LGBTQ population has special needs. Based on the literature, they often suffer from stigma. They don’t want to access help. They’ve been subjected to prejudicial treatment, and often have a lot of stress and emotional problems from when they were coming out. This study might impact the degree of stress this population faces in the future.