The impact of deployment and especially war-zone experiences on the health and well-being of military Veterans is undeniable. Indeed, deployment exposures are associated with an array of negative mental health outcomes, including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. In the wake of recent military deployments, including the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), there has been keen interest in how specific deployment exposures might lead to physical health problems as well. Additionally, some researchers have examined the potential for positive consequences of deployment experiences, including an enhanced appreciation for life, greater attainment of life goals, and closer interpersonal relationships. Hence, the continued development of the DRRI is responsive to the growing interest in deriving a better understanding of deployment-related factors that have implications for Veterans' long-term well-being.
At the time the original DRRI was developed, a review of the literature revealed a lack of measures of deployment-related stressors that were reliable and valid for assessing the experiences of contemporary deployments. For example, while there were a number of well-accepted measures of combat exposure, they were developed for previously deployed cohorts, and most notably, for Vietnam Veterans. This was problematic because the combat-related experiences that characterize present-day deployments are likely to differ quite markedly from those of earlier conflicts. Moreover, there was a growing body of research demonstrating the salience of other deployment factors, as examples, perceived threat, exposure to the aftermath of battle, and the general milieu of distressing or uncomfortable living conditions. The deployment of a much larger proportion of women and National Guard and Reserve personnel in the context of an all-volunteer military force called attention to additional stressors, such as sexual harassment and concerns about life and family disruptions, that were not considered of research importance for previous cohorts of Veterans. Therefore, a broader assessment of the experiences of contemporary deployments was needed, and the original DRRI responded to that need by indexing a variety of risk and resilience factors important to modern deployments.
Since the DRRI was first released to the field in 2003, there has been a great deal of interest in these measures among researchers. In addition to being used in a number of large-scale, high-profile studies, the DRRI has also appeared in an ever-growing number of publications in peer-reviewed journals. Further, while the DRRI was developed as a research tool, the scales have also been adapted by clinicians to obtain information about deployment experiences that can inform the application of diagnostic tools and interventions.
Recognizing that the psychometric quality of scales can decline over time as the content of instruments becomes less relevant for respondents, a multiphase project was recently undertaken to update the DRRI and validate updated scales in a sample of contemporary war Veterans. Changes reflected in the DRRI-2 include an updated assessment of warfare experiences and an expanded coverage of key family environment-related factors throughout predeployment, deployment, and postdeployment phases. A secondary goal in updating the DRRI was to provide shorter scales, when possible, by identifying items that could be eliminated without compromising the overall psychometric quality of the measures.