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Family Focus on Military Families Newsletter

Family Focus on Military Families Newsletter

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  • 1. National Council on Family Relations Family Focus on . . . Military FamiliesIn focus // Issue FF52Reflections onintergenerational relations page F3 Working with the military by Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, Associate Dean, College of Health and Human Sci-Who gets custody of ences; Director, Center for Families; Director, Military Family Research Institute; profes- sor, Human Development and Family Studies, Purdue University, shelley@purdue.eduGrandma after the divorce? page F5The many faces of parental Since 2000, it has been my honor to lead the military programs forestrangement page F8 Military Family Research Institute at Pur- lacking sufficiently due University. This was an experience rigorous evaluationIntergenerational cultural I never expected to have, but I have found protocols. In at leastIn focus // atbonds: A look it to be among the most meaningful and some of these cases,Ukranian-American families page F11 intellectually engaging of my career. Today, there were goodBuddy-to-Buddy: an innovative the institute is actually misnamed because reasons that evalua-substitute for family supportBuilding intergenerational we now carry out not just research but also tion activities wereamong at-risk, returning veterans outreach with and for military families, limited, such as legalrelationships via an Elderof Iraq and Afghanistan page F2 working closely with military and com- restrictions on Shelley MacDermidService Partner program page F13 munity organizations. We often receive appropriate use of WadsworthAdvice to the therapists working calls from colleagues who are eager to learn funds. You should always assume thatwith military families inFamily stress and risk page F4 about working with the military, and so in your predecessors were smart, thoughtfulgrandparent-headed this article I share some suggestions. Some people who wanted to do a good job. IfMilitary Families Internship: of these were presented at a recent meeting you can find out about the constraints theyhouseholds Strengthening families page F14 of the Society for Social Work Research. faced, you will have a much better chanceand communities page F6 of improving on their effort. Go Back to the BooksWorld War II in There is a good chance that many of the Never Forget that It’s Not About You people’s lives page F9 research questions or intervention ideas you or Your Program are thinking of have already been thought of Military folks have an important mis-Military service and the life by others. Because research about military sion to carry out for the country. They arecourse: An assessment of families tends to wane between conflicts, completely funded by taxpayer dollarswhat we know page F11 the most recent research relevant to your and they expect accountability. They work question may have been published soon with academics to find better ways toMilitary families: what we know after the most recent large-scale conflict (the fulfill their mission, not because they areand what we don’t know page F13 first Gulf War in the 1990s). Considerable trying to help us publish articles, conduct research on military families is published in randomized trials of a new intervention, orReturning home: What we technical reports rather than peer-reviewed train students. If they learn of a resourceknow about the reintegration literature (because it is funded by military that they think will help them fulfill theirof deployed service members contracts), and thus you must search the mission better, cheaper, or faster, they needinto their families and “gray” literature as well as the traditional to pursue that option even if it means with-communities page F16 scientific literature (the Defense Techni- drawing support from existing projects. cal Information Center is a very importantTeaching about military families: Every day, military members are in harm’s source). Before you conclude that your ideaLessons from the field page F18 way around the world. Even in European really is new, make sure you scan the envi- cities on “regular” deployments, service ronment very carefully. The theme for the next issue of members have been targets of lethal vio- NCFR Report is “Teaching Family Remember the Old Adage that “Fools lence. Combat deployments are decreas- Science.” Deadline for submission is Rush in Where Angels Fear to Tread” ing as troops leave Iraq and Afghanistan, It can be easy to find flaws in prior research but deployments for peacekeeping, natural March 21, 2012. Questions? Write the or intervention efforts. For example, many disasters, training, and many other purpos- editor at reports have recently criticized existing es continue. Thus, the children, partners, working with the military continued on page F2
  • 2. Family Focus on... Military FamiliesBuddy-to-Buddy: An innovative substitutefor family support among at-risk, returningveterans of Iraq and Afghanistanby Christopher Jarman, MSW, Michigan State University,; Adrian Blow, Ph.D., Michigan State University;Marcia Valenstein, M.D., M.S., The University of MichiganSoldiers at war anticipate few events so much experiences uponas returning home to family, friends, and a returning home,sense of peace. Yet for many returning vet- however, are at besterans, peace eludes them as they begin new only loosely similarbattles with combat sequelae such as post- to those of their full-traumatic stress, depression, substance abuse, time counterparts.anxiety, traumatic brain injuries, and social Active-duty soldiersisolation, all of which can have devastating typically return toeffects on close relationships. For one group large military com-of recent veterans members of the Army Christopher Jarman Adrian Blow Marcia Valenstein munities replete withNational Guard these experiences appear to ticularly for NG soldiers. However, these specialized support services for reintegrationoccur at still higher rates and with greater family members are at times not able to (e.g., military hospitals, outpatient clinics,severity than the rest of the military. be ideal supporters. Frequently, service family support groups and programs, ad-Army National Guard (NG) soldiers comprise diction treatment, and military chaplains, members may choose not to speak withnearly a third of the nation’s 1.12 million to name but a few). Crucially, active-duty family members about their struggles outsoldiers. Working part time (one weekend a soldiers return to communities where they of concern for burdening these individu-month and a two-week annual training), these are surrounded both by military peers with als. In addition, service members may findcitizen soldiers lead more traditional lives similar experiences as well as the structure it very difficult to talk to family memberswhen not in uniform. During the 10 years of and close monitoring of their chain of com- about disturbing or traumatizing deploymentthe Global War on Terror, however, NG units mand; in short, they are relatively ensconced events. Family members themselves mayacross the nation have repeatedly been called by their “military family,” a significant have their own difficulties and as a resultto full-time duty, serving year-long tours far source of social support above and beyond they may not be receptive to the difficultiesfrom home and family. NG veterans’ reintegration services. of the service member. NG family members live in a civilian world and may not be as Guard soldiers, by contrast, return to largely understanding about the perils of war as theworking with the military civilian hometowns where they must quickly service member needs. In other cases, fam-continued from page F1 decompress from war while reintegrating ily may be absent from the lives of service into their civilian jobs and communities. So- members by virtue of distance or strainedparents, and other people who love military cial interactions with members of their units relationships, leaving the service membermembers will continue to watch, wait, and often decrease precipitously, and many NG with limited support. Whatever the reason,worry. Over the past decade, we have added veterans report a sense of isolation and disil- it is increasingly apparent that in some casesmillions of men and women to the veteran lusionment with the more mundane, day- service members are more easily able topopulation, and the costs of caring for the to-day experiences of civilian living. Poten- talk to their fellow service members aboutservice-connected illnesses and injuries tially contributing to the challenge, many struggles with deployment and reintegration,of these individuals will not peak for sev- young soldiers are unmarried or unpartnered and in cases where family is not ideal as aeral decades. As educators, scholars, and and no longer live with their families. These support, the military family takes on a muchpractitioners, we are obligated to pay atten- veterans are at potentially even greater risk larger significance.tion to this new demographic group. of negative outcomes by virtue of social iso-I am proud to be among many wonderful In response to growing awareness of the lation and lack of close family support. Forcolleagues around the world who are doing struggles facing National Guard veterans, soldiers struggling with the traumatic effectsthis work and we at MFRI are eager to col- our team of researchers, clinicians, and of war, their “military family” may becomelaborate with students and faculty who share military leaders in Michigan felt compelled as important as their family of origin.our interest in gathering and analyzing data, to respond. After several years of close col-strengthening programs, and educating new Often, family members (spouses, parents, laboration we developed what is known ascolleagues.  and extended family) are the first lines of Buddy-to-Buddy, an innovative peer support support for soldiers when they return, par- buddy-to-buddy continued on page F3F2 family focus // spring 2012
  • 3. Family Focus on... Military Familiesbuddy-to-buddy continued from page F2program carefully tailored to meet the chal- soon received grant funding from the Robert tions with soldiers, available resources, andlenges and needs of our National Guard R. McCormick Foundation’s Welcome Back limited training regarding symptoms sug-veterans. By enhancing the effectiveness gestive of the need for further evaluation. Veterans initiative and began regularly meet-of these soldiers’ “military family,” we are ing to set a course for enhanced support forSoldiers are then assigned a panel of four tohoping to improve outcomes among these returning soldiers in Michigan. 10 soldiers in their units whom they contactdeserving veterans. each month by phone or in person. During Through an iterative process among group these conversations, B1s rely on a list ofThe military has long been aware of the members, the collaboration between MSU, 11 potential problem areas to guide them.struggles of returning soldiers and provides UM, the VA, and the Michigan National Importantly, these volunteers do not servesoldiers in the NG and active duty alike with Guard eventually developed a peer-support as mental health counselors or case manag-considerable support. Despite these resourc- program for units returning from Operation ers and do not diagnose conditions. Instead,es, fear of stigmatization, a warrior ethos, Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Endur- B1s provide soldiers in need or at risk withdistrust of healthcare professionals, and ing Freedom (OEF). Our intent was not to an opportunity to speak to a trained, trustedcareer concerns persist as powerful barriers develop another mental health program, but peer and with substantially reduced concernsto seeking care, and more than half of those rather a unit-level mechanism for identify- about stigmatization, breeches of confiden-in need choose not to seek it. ing soldiers with needs and confidentially tiality, or career implications. If B1s haveIn response to these alarming realities connecting them with available resources. A concerns about one of their soldiers, theyamong returning veterans, various organi-zations in Michigan began considering a In response to growing awareness of the struggles facingway to augment existing support programs.Michigan which has no active-duty military National Guard veterans, our team of researchers, clinicians, and militaryinstallations, but a relatively large National leaders in Michigan felt compelled to respond. After several yearsGuard presence was rife with opportunities of close collaboration we developed what is known as Buddy-to-Buddy,to serve returning veterans. In 2005, facultyat Michigan State University (MSU) began an innovative peer support program carefully tailored to meet thedeveloping tailored programs for returning challenges and needs of our National Guard veterans.veterans and their families through what areknown as Reintegration Weekends. These variety of hurdles including concerns about can contact NG mental health personnel forNG sponsored events provide soldiers and confidentiality, ambivalence regarding treat- consultations and referrals. Such concernstheir families opportunities to reconnect ment, relational issues between the NG and cover an array of matters, however, andwith their “military family” while simultane- nonmilitary organizations, respect for the may include financial issues, employmentously receiving briefings and referral infor- NG chain of command, programmatic feasi- concerns, substance abuse problems, maritalmation for common needs. The MSU faculty bility and effectiveness, and “in-unit” versus difficulties, and so on.sought to enhance these events by providing “out-of-unit” peers required negotiation and The second tier of volunteers consists of vet-soldiers and families with information and creative solutions. The result of these early erans no longer serving who are selected andassistance grounded in the latest research. efforts became known as the Buddy-To- supervised by VA and UM staff. These vol-At many of these events, two of Michigan’s Buddy Veteran Volunteer Program, or B2B. unteers are selected because of their demon-Vietnam veterans volunteered to provide Designed specifically for service members strated maturity, responsibility, interpersonalinformal, unstructured outreach efforts to returning from OIF and OEF, we developed skills, knowledge of mental health services,soldiers, typically by giving talks about their B2B to improve outcomes by activating and trainability in more nuanced strategiesown experiences with the challenges and veterans’ “military families.” for motivating soldiers to seek and remain inpitfalls of reintegration. The veterans’ talks Today, Buddy-to-Buddy is a two-tier peer- care. B2s receive two days of intensive train-had a powerful effect on soldiers as well as support program run by within-unit soldier ing, including the use of Motivational Inter-visiting faculty members, who were intrigued volunteers (Buddy Ones, or B1s) and vet- viewing (MI), an empirically validated tech-by their approach. The two veterans’ status eran volunteers external to units (Buddy nique for effectively responding to ambiva-as relative outsiders to formal systems en- Twos, or B2s). This tiered design provides a lence. B2s often interact with their assignedabled them to deliver their message of hope balance between effectiveness and the con- units at training weekends and reintegrationwhile bypassing the resistance so common cerns mentioned above. Buddy One soldiers events, and soldiers know they can call B2samong returning veterans. Soon, University are selected because peers view them as directly if they prefer. B2s also receive sol-of Michigan (UM) and Veteran’s Administra- informal leaders to whom they willingly dier referrals from B1s, military chaplains,tion (VA) investigators joined the MSU fac- turn for advice or support. These volunteers commanders, family service organizations,ulty at reintegration briefings, and by 2008, receive roughly four hours of training on and other sources. Each Buddy Two receivesdiscussions about more deliberate outreach the Buddy-to-Buddy program, their roles as weekly supervision teleconferences with anprograms based largely on the concept of B1 volunteers, open-ended questioning and experienced clinician in the VA.peer support were ongoing. The collaboration reflections to sustain and enhance conversa- buddy-to-buddy continued on page F4family focus // spring 2012 F3
  • 4. Family Focus on... Military FamiliesAdvice to the therapists working with military familiesby Angela J. Huebner, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Human Development,Virginia Tech, ahuebner@vt.eduThe military conflicts in Iraq and Afghani- emotions can shift into feelings of indepen- access to a wide vari-stan mark the first time in our nation’s dence and control as the deployment wears ety of mental healthhistory of military service that we have on. Finally, reintegration occurs when the supports. These sup-attempted to maintain such an involved service member returns to the United States ports can includeforward deployment with an all-volunteer and is reunited with his or her loved ones. counseling throughforce. To date, about 1.8 million troops have This period may start as a honeymoon, but behavioral health,been deployed. This translates into 2.7 mil- end in the reality of renegotiating roles and chaplains, or Militarylion family members who have experienced getting to know each other once again. OneSource. Despiteseparation from their service member for Service members ranked deployment length the availability of sup-extended periods of time. and family separation among their top ports and the docu- Angela Huebner noncombat-related stressors. Other studies mented impact of theThe experience of deployment can be di- have documented the impact of deploy- stressors of deploy-vided into three distinctive phases, each ment on family members, noting the shifts ment, studies suggest that service memberswith its own associated stressors and emo- and their families are often hesitant to seektions. First, predeployment begins when the needed for adjustment. For some children and youth, parental deployment has been mental health services. Service membersservice member receives his or her orders. associated with depression, anxiety, lower cite concerns about confidentiality, fear ofIt typically involves extended training and appearing weak, and negative repercussionspreparation for the upcoming mission. Fami- grades in school, and increased familial conflict. Deployment has also been linked to on career advancements (including threats tolies may become more distancing and argu- depression, anxiety, isolation, and sadness security clearance) as reasons for not seek-mentative during this phase of deployment ing mental health support when they vacillate between denial and sadness for some nondeployed spouses. Not surpris-about the service member’s departure. Sec- ingly, the adjustment of the at-home parent Therapists outside the military communityond, deployment occurs when the service (the nondeployed spouse) has repeatedly can be a valued support to service membersmember begins his or her actual mission in been shown to have the greatest impact on and their families precisely because they areor in support of the theater of war. Families the overall adjustment of the children. unaffiliated with any military branch. Thistypically experience a wide variety of emo- Depending on their geographic location, nonaffiliation can be helpful in assuringtions during the actual deployment including service members and their families can have confidentiality but it may also be accompa-relief, sadness, numbing, or anxiety. These nied by a lack of understanding about the military culture, which can compromise thebuddy-to-buddy continued from page F3 therapeutic alliance.B2s encourage soldiers to open up about for several thousand veterans, qualitative in- Understanding Military Culturetheir problems, seek help when needed, and terviews of soldiers, leaders, and key infor- How can therapists become the “inside”remain in care if necessary. They also pro- mants in the program, and analysis of health outsiders for service members and theirvide soldiers with confidential information data. Preliminary data is already enabling families? The following suggestions areabout a wide range of resources, all without the Michigan National Guard to improve the designed to familiarize the militarily naïveinvolving the chain of command. program’s reach and effectiveness. The data therapist to the military culture and potential issues of special concern for military serviceAfter the initial development and implemen- are also providing encouraging evidence that members and their families.tation of the B2B peer-support program, the the concept of an extended “military fam-Michigan Army National Guard assumed ily” can help struggling veterans survive and One of the most important things to recog-control of the program and has assigned even thrive under truly challenging circum- nize when working with military servicean officer and noncommissioned officer to stances. We hope to continue supporting this members or their families is what has beenconduct training and implementation. NG wonderful group well into the future through termed the “warrior ethos.” Service mem-Bureaus in other states have expressed inter- our close relationship with the National bers and their families pride themselves onest in the program and efforts to disseminate Guard. While we do not wish to supplant the their strength and ability to successfullyBuddy-to-Buddy are ongoing. We are cur- role of family in providing support, we hope confront challenge. The notion of askingrently conducting a multistate evaluation of to extend the picture to include the valuable for help or support often carries with it thethe program, including longitudinal surveys support found among close peers.  stigma of weakness. In our studies, serviceF4 family focus // spring 2012
  • 5. Family Focus on... Military Familiesadvice to therapists continued from page F4advice to therapists continued on page F5 posts. Those in the Navy are called sailors majority have been involved in or witnessed and their installations are referred to as trauma but may not be willing to share thismembers have reported concerns about bases. Marines are affiliated with the Navy information unless explicitly asked. Theappearing weak in front of their peers or but are referred to as Marines. Those in the service member and his or her family needcommanders; commanders have reported Air Force are airmen or airwomen and their to know that you are aware of the reality ofconcerns of appearing weak to their subor- installations are also called bases. Referring combat exposure and that you can handledinates. In a culture where respect and team- to someone in the Army as a sailor or to hearing about reign, such fears are not unwarranted. someone in the Navy as a soldier lessens the Depression and SuicideNo one wants to be considered the “weakest therapist’s credibility and can be interpreted The growing rate of suicide in the militarylink” and many believe their families to be as disrespectful. has received increased attention. Given thea direct reflection on them. These beliefs,which help make our military strong, can A service member’s rank can provide infor- warrior ethos, it is not surprising that servicealso place service members in a double bind mation about his or her education, income, members would be hesitant to talk aboutwhen they do find themselves in need of and job description. For example, those suicidal ideation even if it were, especially when that support entails in the enlisted ranks usually have no prior Again, be specific in asking about this.mental health services. It is imperative that college degree. Commissioned officers Survivor Guilttherapists have an awareness of this tension have either completed a college Reserve Many service members may be experiencingif they are to successfully work with military Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), a degree survivor guilt. “Why did my comrade stepservice members and their families. from a U.S. service academy, or officer on the IED and I didn’t?” “Why did their training school. Noncommissioned officers convoy get attacked and mine didn’t?” It isAs with any culture, the military has its own have ascended up the ranks from enlisted toset of acronyms and terms that flow through-out their everyday conversations. Whileit is not necessary to become completely Identifying service members by their proper branch is a sign of respect.fluent in “military-ese,” an understanding For example, those in the Army are called soldiers and their installationsof common terms can go a long way in are referred to as forts or posts. Those in the Navy are called sailorsestablishing a therapeutic alliance. Several and their installations are referred to as bases. Marines are affiliatedwebsites provide excellent primers in thisregard (e.g., with the Navy but are referred to as Marines. Those in the Air Force areget-info/new-to-military/military-culture/). airmen or airwomen and their installations are also called bases. ReferringSome frequently used terms include: OEF to someone in the Army as a sailor or to someone in the Navy as a soldier(Operation Enduring Freedom); OIF (Op- lessens the therapist’s credibility and can be interpreted as disrespectful.eration Iraqi Freedom); PCS (PermanentChange of Station or moving to a new loca- enlisted officer status, but they still remain important to explore this issue and to helption); TDY (temporary duty going away for part of the enlisted culture. In establishing the service member make sense of the expe-a conference, education, or training); MOS a therapeutic relationship, it is important to rience and surrounding feelings.(Military Occupational Specialty); CONUS acknowledge the rank initially (as a sign of(located in the continental United States); History of Trauma (Military and Nonmilitary) respect), then to make it clear to the client As suggested above, ask about trauma ex-OCONUS (located outside the continental that you view him or her as a person, ratherUnited States); IA (individual augmentee,  posure experienced during deployment. But than a position. don’t limit the inquiry to this period of time.a service member who is deployed with aunit other than the one with whom he or Assessment According to Seifert and colleagues (2011)she has trained); FRG (Family Readiness Several specialized areas of assessment may 46% of service members report a history ofGroup, provides support for spouses and be needed in working with military service childhood physical abuse; 25% report bothfamilies left behind, especially during de- members and their families. Note that these physical and sexual abuse. Those who expe-ployment); and “in theater” (in the location suggestions are meant to supplement regular rienced both have a higher rate of develop-of the conflict or battle). assessment of strengths and social supports ing PTSD. Additionally, for female service as well as issues of depression, ATOD, members, it is important to query about theirEach service branch brings with it its own violence, and the like as appropriate for the experiences of sexual harassment or assaultculture and pride. Each specializes in dif- presenting issue. during deployment. Murdoch and colleaguesferent contexts of battle (land, sea, sky) and (2003) reported that incidents of sexual ha- Deployment Experienceeach operates different lengths of deploy- rassment were reported by 80% of the mili- Ask the service member about his or her ex-ment, ranging on average from 6-15 months. tary women in their study. In other studies, perience with deployment. Ask specificallyIdentifying service members by their proper researchers have suggested that 28%-30% of about combat exposure and trauma expo-branch is a sign of respect. For example, female service members have experienced a sure. Estimates are that between 77%-87%those in the Army are called soldiers and rape while in military service. of OEF and OIF veterans had combat expo-their installations are referred to as forts or sure (i.e., shot or were shot at). Thus the vast advice to therapists continued on page F6family focus // spring 2012 F5
  • 6. Family Focus on... Military FamiliesMilitary Families Internship:Strengthening families and communitiesby Sally Koblinsky, Ph.D., professor,, and Zainab Okolo, M.A.,undergraduate coordinator, University of Maryland, College Park,When men and women serve our country, Multiple and longer deployments straintheir families also serve. Supporting and families, especially when the stress of warstrengthening military families is now a affects a service member’s reunificationnational priority. Fewer than 1% of Ameri- with family members and readjustment tocans have served in the armed forces during civilian life. Some post-9/11 veterans havethe last decade, yet they and their families sustained serious physical injuries, includinghave borne the burdens of our nation’s lon- amputations and traumatic brain injuries.gest period of continuous conflict. Among Others have unique behavioral health needs.our current troops, 55% are married and more According to a RAND study of militarythan 40% have children. Although family members who served in Operation Iraqi Sally Koblinsky Zainab Okoloseparations are an intrinsic component of Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Free-military life, the post-9/11 wars have been dom (OEF), one in five reports symptoms of problems among military children and morecharacterized by special challenges, includ- post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. mental health diagnoses among Army the increased number, length, and unpre- Greater cumulative length of deployments While our U.S. military continues to recruitdictability of deployments. has also been linked to more emotional internship continued on page F7advice to therapists continued from page F5 person. Unprecedented access to the InternetSuch experiences may be particularly dif- they being physically aggressive with others and cell phones even in theater makes suchficult for female service members to make or getting into physical fights? concerns real. Be ready to assess for Internetmeaning of, given that the assault came Risk-Taking Behavior pornography use and potential addiction.from those who were supposed to be on Many returning service members reporttheir side. Financial Difficulties difficulty adjusting to “normal life.” After It is not uncommon for families to experi-PTSD Symptoms having survived at a heightened sense of ence great changes in their family incomeCheck for symptoms of PTSD, noting even alertness for such an extended period of during deployment. Finances can oftensubclinical levels and their impact on the time, a service member may be tempted to become a point of tension. How have moneyservice member’s behavior and interactions engage in risk-taking behaviors in an effort issues been handled during the deployment?with others. Also be mindful of the impact to get the adrenalin rush that was such a part Are couples able to communicate about theirof vicarious trauma among family members of everyday experience in theater. These needs and the status of their finances?of service members. behaviors may be consciously intentional or not, but can include driving recklessly, not Youth Internalizing and Drug Use Externalizing Behaviors wearing a motorcycle helmet, drinking tooAssess the client’s use of licit, illicit, and Explore changes in behaviors and emotions much, engaging in fights, and taking otherprescription drugs. Remember that admis- among the children in military families. Fall- chances.sion of use of illicit drugs can be grounds ing grades, withdrawal, depression, anger,for discharge, so service members may be Couple Communication How often were the service member and and sleep issues are all common responsesparticularly hesitant to be honest about their to deployment. Some studies suggest thatuse. Don’t forget to ask about prescrip- spouse able to communicate during deploy- ment? How well do they communicate now youth have more difficulty with the re-tion drug use, both in theater and at home. integration phase of deployment than doSpouses may also have turned to drug use as that the service member has returned home? Look for changes from predeployment to parents, in part because they are concerneda coping response during the deployment. about the potential for redeployment. reintegration phases.Sleep Habits Summary Infidelity (Physical and Emotional)Check with service members and spouses The need for military-savvy therapists has During long separations, the threat of infi-about their sleeping habits. Disrupted sleep never been greater as the stress of repeated delity is high on both service members’ andcan be sign of PTSD and other issues. deployments takes its toll. Knowing some- spouses’ minds. Normalizing these concernsAnger/Rage thing about the culture and specific issues and assessing for extramarital relationshipsCheck to see how service members are can go a long way in brokering the relation- is important. Note that such relationships ship of mutual respect needed for a success-managing any issues with anger. Are they can be Internet-based, with emotional at- ful therapeutic experience. verbally lashing out at family members? Are tachments formed at long distances or inF6 family focus // spring 2012
  • 7. Family Focus on... Military Familiesinternship continued from page F6a first-rate, volunteer force and large num- gram leaders, researchers, and family mem- military bases and military-focused agen-bers of military families exhibit resiliency, it bers together to identify ways to increase the cies had previously accepted our studentsis important that family professionals better effectiveness of military family support and as interns, most students’ lack of familiarityunderstand the challenges faced by military readiness programs. Our program also com- with military culture and lifestyles created families and apply this knowledge to im- plements two other internship programs in a steep learning curve that limited their con-proving their well-being. the USDA/DoD Military Extension Part- tributions to the internship sponsor. he T nership that recruit interns from across the current demands on military agencies furtherMilitary Families Internship nation. Purdue University’s 4-H Military In- restricted the amount of time they couldOne of the challenges involved in promoting devote to sifting through student requests toresiliency among OIF/OEF military person- ternship places student interns in child care and youth programs on military bases in the intern at their sites.nel and their families is the short supply offamily science and behavioral health profes- United States and overseas. North Carolina To address these issues, family sciencesionals who have been trained to identify State University’s Project Y.E.S! (Youth Ex- faculty initiated contact with nearby militaryand meet military family needs. To address tension Service) engages students in a year bases, health centers, and agencies servingthis shortage, the University of Maryland’s of service to provide youth development military families to solicit their interest inDepartment of Family Science created a programs for military children nationwide. hosting an intern. We informed potentialMilitary Families Internship program in fall of 2011. This internship prepares senior One of the challenges involved in promoting resiliency amongfamily science students to enhance the readi- OIF/OEF military personnel and their families is the short supply of familyness, resilience, and well-being of service science and behavioral health professionals who have been trainedmembers, veterans, and families. Studentsreceive training to help military families to identify and meet military family needs. To address this shortage, thedeal with deployments and family reunifica- University of Maryland’s Department of Family Science createdtion, gain access to services and benefits, a Military Families Internship program in fall of 2011.and advocate for their needs. Major goals ofthe program are to: Increase students’ knowledge about mili- While Maryland’s Military Families Intern- supervisors/mentors that all prospective stu- tary culture and military family strengths ship shares many of the goals of the national dents would be screened by our internship and challenges; programs, it recruits students from our uni- directors and matched with bases/agencies Familiarize students with the range of pro- versity and puts them to work with military seeking their skills. All of the interns were grams and services available to military families in the local community. Students required to complete an online, 10-module, families; gain real-world experience with military Military OneSource course on military cul- Develop students’ skills for planning, culture and increase community capacity to ture and military families (at no cost) prior foster and sustain resilient military families. to beginning their internships. As in our implementing, and evaluating programs Maryland’s internship places some students larger internship program, Military Family that support military families and military in military child/youth programs, but also Interns must complete a contract with their children/youth; prepares students to work with military supervisor/mentor specifying professional Improve the capacity of local communi- families in family readiness and human learning goals, career fit, internship duties, ties to serve military families; service and family life education programs a supervision plan, and a schedule for prog- Build and enhance university partnerships that focus on health, financial management, ress reviews. with state military installations, military housing, employment, parenting, caregiving, health centers, health/social service agen- During their placement semester, students and other family issues. The program is one cies, and nonprofits addressing military attend bi-weekly seminars taught by fam- model for land grant and other institutions family needs; and ily science and other university faculty who seeking to strengthen community capacity- Increase the number of family science are engaged in research and service projects building in support of military families and professionals in the workforce who have involving military families. Seminars pro- develop a local workforce of professionals the knowledge, skills, and experience to vide an opportunity for students to share prepared to meet military family needs. assist military families. their experiences and to learn about timely Internship Basics military issues, such as effects of the de-The goals of our internship program ad- The Military Families Internship was an ployment cycle on families, post-traumaticdress major priorities of the recent National outgrowth of our required senior internship stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, andLeadership Summit on Military Families. In program in family science. After taking pre- evidence-based interventions for building2009, the University of Maryland partnered requisite courses in family science and hu- family resiliency. Local experts who directwith the Department of Defense (DoD) and man services, students complete a capstone, military youth programs, behavioral healththe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 120-hour (minimum) internship where they internship continued on page F8to bring military family policy makers, pro- apply classroom learning in professional positions in the community. Although a fewfamily focus // spring 2012 F7
  • 8. Family Focus on... Military Familiesinternship continued from page F7initiatives, and family support activities and organizes warrior visits for distin- Wood Johnson Foundation to coordinate andpresent their work at the seminars. A panel guished leaders and visitors. strengthen military and civilian services forof the university’s veteran students also of- troops, veterans, and their families. The in- Easter Seals Military Familiesfers advice on working with military fami- tern is helping to map community resources Respite Programlies. Finally, interns complete a journal and a and create a user-friendly, online navigator Easter Seals interns work with a respite careposter project that enable them to reflect system that will enable military families to program for military families who haveon their work as emerging professionals ad- locate and access needed services. children with disabilities. They acquaintdressing military family needs. military parents with the program, recruit Other internships engage students in a va-We began recruiting students for the Mili- caregivers, provide training on quality child riety of military family activities, includingtary Families Internship in the fall of 2011. care, and make unannounced site visits to organizing family health/wellness work-Forty-five students applied for the 20 place- evaluate respite caregiver interactions with shops; developing and implementing curri-ment sites. The authors interviewed all children. cula for Operation Military Kids/4-H pro-applicants to assess their interest in military grams; working with families on financial Operation HomeFrontfamilies, familiarity with military life (e.g., management; creating a peer support and Operation Homefront internships involveparent or spouse in the armed forces), and advocacy network for women veterans; and identifying services and sources of emer-relevant experience. The response of one helping service members reintegrate into gency financial aid for families of deployedstudent was representative of the group: “I civilian and family life. service members and wounded warriors dur-realized that these guys are my peer group ing their period of recovery and transition. Conclusion… and they’ve been through so much. … Interns assess service member and family University of Maryland’s Military FamiliesI feel like working with wounded warriors needs, acquaint them with community re- Internship program can be replicated by oth-and their families is a way for me to give sources, organize family events, and monitor er colleges/universities interested in servingback.” One of the student interns is an Air use of transitional housing. military families in their local communities.Force veteran and several have relatives in The program educates students about mili-the military. Many of the students who were Ft. Meade Army Community Service tary family strengths and challenges, pro-not selected (generally because they were Interns at Fort Meade work in the cultural vides opportunities for meaningful service,not graduating in May 2012) will serve as awareness, employment readiness, mobi- and prepares family professionals to meetinterns in summer or fall 2012. We also have lization/deployment, or volunteer services military family needs. Through the work ofplans to increase our military internship sites program. Two students are planning military student interns, communities increase theirand expand the program to seniors in public family readiness activities, including classes capacity to improve military families’ well-health. that introduce families to the culture of being. Although many institutions may not Afghanistan and programs for children/youthInternship Placements have the diverse network of military bases whose parents will soon deploy. Another stu-Our Military Family interns are serving in and agencies found in the Maryland-Wash- dent is developing onsite and online volun-a variety of military and civilian organiza- ington, D.C., area, most communities have teer programming for base families, as welltions, including Walter Reed National Mili- veterans’ groups, behavioral health agen- as helping to plan and evaluate a volunteertary Medical Center, Fort George G. Meade, cies, or youth programs that serve military services fair. These interns also work withAndrews Air Force Base, Operation Military families, including the National Guard and family support groups and connect militaryKids/4-H, Operation Homefront, Operation reserves. A community-based military in- spouses to programs that address their em-Second Chance, Easter Seals Military and ternship program can provide students with ployment, education, and health needs.Veterans Services, Women Veterans Interac- valuable knowledge, skills, and apprecia- Serving Together tion for the dedicated service of our nation’stive Foundation, Serving Together/Mental The Serving Together intern participates in military families. Health Association of Montgomery County, a county-wide project funded by the RobertUniversity of Maryland Office of VeteranStudent Life, and the Maryland Departmentof Health and Mental Hygiene. Below arebrief descriptions of selected internships:Walter Reed Warrior FamilyCoordination CellThe Walter Reed internship involves ad-dressing the daily needs of wounded war-riors and their family members in inpatientand outpatient settings. The intern also plansand coordinates events for warriors and fam-ily members, works with nongovernmentalorganizations assisting wounded warriors,F8 family focus // spring 2012
  • 9. Family Focus on... Military FamiliesWorld War II in people’s livesby Ralph LaRossa, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Georgia State University, rlarossa@gsu.eduSeventy-some-odd years ago, in the wake employer (e.g., in one of its ads, the Ameri- Several years ago Iof the December 1941 attack on Pearl Har- can Thermos Bottle Company, manufacturer embarked on a proj-bor, the United States of America became of vacuum bottles and lunch boxes, claimed ect to research Worlda combatant in World War II. The country that “the man with the lunch kit and the man War II. I wanted towould remain at war until 1945 when first with the gun are equally vital to America’s better understandGermany and later Japan surrendered. In war effort”). Children, too, contributed to what the war meantcommemoration of the war, many in the the war effort by being messengers in the for fathers and theirUnited States and throughout the world will U.S. Citizens Defense Corps and by solicit- families. The projectperiodically stop and think about the war’s ing monetary donations as “Victory Volun- began as a sequel ofbattles and its overall impact. What we will teers” (“Won’t you buy a war bond, Mister, sorts to a book I had Ralph LaRossaremember will include (but not be limited so’s my Daddy can come home?”). written on the history of fatherhood duringto): Presidential Executive Order 9102 the Machine Age (1918-1941). Quickly, In short, the majority of Americans during(signed into law in March 1942) establishing however, the venture expanded to include World War II, regardless of whether theythe War Relocation Authority and leading a lot more than this. The conversations I were in the armed forces, lived with the warto the imprisonment of more than 110,000 had with my parents about the war did little on a regular basis. “Military families” thusresident Japanese men, women, and chil- to prepare me for the heart-wrenching and included not only those that happened todren (many of whom were U.S. citizens); heartwarming stories I came across. have a son or father or uncle (or daughter orthe congressional debate (in the spring and mother or aunt) in uniform, but also those in What stood out were both the magnitude summer of 1943) over whether the six mil- which a member of the family was engaged of the conflict and the enormity of its reach.lion fathers who had conceived a child on or in war-related work. My parents’ war was not a confrontation thatbefore the date of the Japanese attack should touched only a fraction of the populationcontinue to be exempted from the draft Postwar conversations about while the rest of the country remained largely(eventually it was decided that they should the war thus could be difficult, not just unscathed. Rather, as its name implies, Worldbe among the pool of potential recruits); War II was a full-scale conflagration, thethe Allied invasion of Normandy, otherwise for the men who did not consequences of which are still being felt.known as D-Day (in June 1944); the battle want to dwell on the terribleof Okinawa (April to June 1945); the fall Central to understanding World War II wasof Berlin (in May 1945); and the dropping things they saw and were forced the diversity of people’s experiences. Someof atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Naga- to do, but also for the men who have suggested that the singular impact ofsaki (in August 1945), which ushered in the the war on the domestic front was the eco- could not honestly offer the talesNuclear Age and redefined what it meant to nomic boom that it initiated and the speeddestroy something. of bravery that family and friends with which it put Depression-era men back so much wanted to hear. to work, as if war was only about grossWith the United States currently at war, national production. Men in the 1940s alsowe can appreciate, to some extent, what My father served in World War II (as an Air have often been characterized in monochro-Americans were confronted with in the Corps radio man on B-series bombers). So, matic terms, with the impression given that1940s. But we must understand, too, that the in a way, did my mother, in that she was all were (a) drafted or volunteered, (b) sentbreadth and depth of World War II put it in employed for a while in a Brooklyn factory overseas and into combat, and (c) welcomedan entirely different realm. Today, approxi- that manufactured gyroscopes for planes home as heroes when they returned. Suchmately 1.5 million men and women are on and ships. I remember as a child asking my generalizations, however, ignore the myriadactive duty. During World War II, more than parents about the war and being captivated ways that the war was felt and perceived and16 million were. Today, tens of thousands by what they had to say. I remember, too, the significant differences that existed fromof civilians are engaged in homeland secu- playing war games and simulating combat one group to the next. The social meaning ofrity (particularly at airports and seaports). with my elementary school buddies in the World War II varied substantially by (amongDuring World War II, the number was sig- small field across the street from the house other things): race, ethnicity, social class,nificantly higher, especially if we take into where I grew up. My friends and I would gender, age, geography, religion, whetheraccount those who worked in munitions “shoot” at each other and, every now and one had or had not seen combat, and the par-factories (e.g., “Rosie the Riveter”) and the then, fall down and pretend to be dead, only ticular relationship one had with the casual-fact that everyone had to ration and get by to miraculously arise a few seconds later ties (e.g., as a father or mother or sibling ofwith less. In the 1940s, even if a person’s to fight again. Little did we realize how far a soldier who died or who was injured).job did not seem to be connected to the war, removed our antics were from the actuala link nonetheless was often made by an horrors of battle. world war II continued on page F10family focus // spring 2012 F9
  • 10. Family Focus on... Military Familiesworld war II continued from page F9One thus cannot talk about the war’s eco-nomic effect without acknowledging theJapanese Americans who, in U.S. govern-ment-sponsored roundups, were forced toabandon their homes and leave behind mostof their possessions, and who, upon theirrelease years later, were unable to return tothe jobs they once had or find new jobs com-mensurate with their skills. As one JapaneseAmerican woman reported, “My fatherkept looking for work [after the war], and guished themselves on the battlefield. Said a but also for the men who could not honestlyhe couldn’t find anything. … He never was corpsman who was wounded on D-Day, “No offer the tales of bravery that family andable to get back on his feet. …” one asked me if I was gay when they called friends so much wanted to hear.Nor can one speak of the pride that men out ‘Medic!’ and you went out under fire Geography was a factor, too. Today, Ameri-gained from being in the military and be- and did what you were expected and trained cans in large cities are especially prone toing given a chance to defend their country to do.” In the immediate postwar years and feel vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Newwithout acknowledging the fact that Black especially in the 1950s, thousands of men Yorkers, many of whom personally wit-men initially were barred from enlisting, and and women, many of whom were veterans, nessed the fall of the Twin Towers, are in-that when they were allowed to participate were fired from their jobs if it was discov- clined to have a heightened sense of alarm.they were told they would have to serve in ered that they were gay. The freedoms that During World War II, Americans who re-noncombat roles. Even when African Ameri- many had fought for were not made avail- sided in cities and towns on the East Coastcans were eventually permitted to join or be able to all. or West Coast were more likely to believedrafted (the United States could ill afford The social meaning of World War II also they were in immediate danger because ofto continue to exclude them if it was to win varied by how close a person got to battle. the assumption that the country would be in-the war) and even though many were in Of the 16 million Americans who were on vaded from the sea. Their fears were fueledthe thick of battle (the decorated Tuskegee active duty, only about 10% saw combat. by the buildup of shoreline artillery batteriesAirmen constitute only a small proportion For these soldiers, the brutality of war was and by the success of German submarinesof the Black soldiers who fought), they witnessed up close. One infantryman, who in waters around America’s harbors. In earlywere not revered when they returned, as had seen action in the Pacific, wrote in a 1942, U-boats patrolling off the East CoastWhite soldiers were, but sometimes were letter to his father and mother about “mor- sank 216 ships, and it was not uncommonscorned. To cite but one example, in 1946, tar shells dropping in on heads and ripping for bodies from the torpedoed vessels toIsaac Woodward, traveling in uniform, was bodies” and how “faces [were] blown apart wash up on shore. We can only imagineon his way home by bus to South Carolina by flying lead and coral” on the beach. “The what it was like for World War II-era fami-and, at one point, asked the bus driver, who Catholic Chaplain,” the son reported, “was lies to stroll on the beach, ever watchful ofwas White, if it would be possible to stop killed as he was blessing each foxhole. An what they might find in the sand.the vehicle so he could use the bathroom.“Hell no!” the driver told him. “Dammit,” artillery shell cut him in half at the waist.” More than 400,000 U.S. soldiers were killedWoodward replied, “you’ve got to talk to me Some soldiers, though near battles, were not in World War II. Kids suffered the loss oflike a man.” Furious that Woodward would in any immediate danger, while others, far their parents and siblings; parents grieved thechallenge him, the driver called ahead to the away from the front lines, never fired their loss of their children. Yet another gruesomepolice who at the next stop beat Woodward weapons or were fired upon. Youngsters statistic in the arithmetic of war is the numberso hard as to render him blind. often wanted to know what their fathers did of soldiers missing in action, lost at sea, or interred as unknowns. (A mother, mourn-Consider, too, that although the armed forces in the war. In many cases, they yearned to learn whether their fathers had killed any- ing her child, exclaimed, “If they could justwere (by law) desegregated in 1948, the one. Not fully appreciating the import of find him so I could bury him I don’t want theprivileges that White veterans enjoyed were what they were asking, the children hoped in birds picking on his body.”) To this day, thenot offered in equal measure to Black veter- remains of over 70,000 American G.I.s fromans. G.I. Bill benefits, which provided educa- their hearts the answer was yes. One young World War II have never been officially re-tional and housing opportunities for millions man, finding out that his dad was not in covered or identified. For the families of theseof White veterans, were frequently denied to combat, said that he “felt cheated.” (“After everything the rest of us went through so veterans, the war, in some ways, is not over.Black veterans. New York’s famed suburb,Levittown, which began construction in 1947 he could go off the war, he never even got Noteand flourished throughout the 1950s, system- shot at.”) Postwar conversations about the This essay draws on the research and refer-atically excluded African American families. war thus could be difficult, not just for the ences reported in Ralph LaRossa, Of War men who did not want to dwell on the ter- and Men: World War II in the Lives of Fa-Gay soldiers also fought in World War II, rible things they saw and were forced to do, thers and Their Families (2011). as they had done in wars before, and distin-F10 family focus // spring 2012
  • 11. Family Focus on... Military FamiliesMilitary service and the life course:An assessment of what we knowby Jay Teachman, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Western Washington University, Jay.Teachman@wwu.eduOver the last 60 years, at least 1.5 million Crime and Delinquency vein, it is importantmilitary personnel have been on active duty Research on crime and delinquency illus- to note that variationin each year, affecting 10% to 70% of rel- trates well the importance of time and place and changes in theevant birth cohorts. The peak participation when considering the impact of military ser- civilian environmentfigures are for birth cohorts affected by war vice. The available literature suggests that facing veterans andand large-scale conscription (World War service during World War II acted to reduce non-veterans may be asII, Korea, Vietnam), but military service is the likelihood that veterans would engage in important to considercommon even for peacetime birth cohorts. criminal or delinquent behavior (Sampson as variation and changeFor example, a recent study estimates that & Laub, 1996). For veterans of the Vietnam in the military environ-17% of Black men and 14% of White men era, however, this was less true, and there is ment that act upon Jay Teachmanborn 1965-1969 have served in the military even some evidence that Vietnam veterans veterans. Thus, alterations in civilian oppor-(Pettit & Western, 2004). If men experienc- were more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs tunities for educational and economic suc-ing incarceration are excluded, nearly one than nonveterans (Bouffard & Laub, 2004). cess are likely to be as important as changesin four Black men of this generation has More recently, veterans of the AVF are more in the nature of selectivity into the military and the nature of military service. As we An often-ignored fact is that the military remains the single largest shall see, points two and three are important employer of young men in the United States. Thus, military service is not considerations for other outcomes of mili- tary service. an anomaly or an isolated event in the transition to adulthood, even during the All-Volunteer Force (AVF) era; it is a common event that occurs Marriage, Divorce, and Cohabitation An important component of the life course at ages during which many men (and increasingly women) are involves family transitions. Most research making decisions about education, careers, and intimate relationships. in the field has tied military service to the likelihood of divorce, with much less atten-served in the military. An often-ignored fact likely to experience contact with the legal tion being paid to marriage or that the military remains the single largest system than comparable nonveterans (Bouf- Moreover, much of the literature tends to beemployer of young men in the United States. fard, 2005). contradictory. For example, one study foundThus, military service is not an anomaly or that military service during World War II As important as it is, the available research raised the risk of divorce (Pavalko & Elder,an isolated event in the transition to adult- is limited in several ways. First, the data 1990), while another finds a decreased riskhood, even during the All-Volunteer Force sources for earlier cohorts of veterans are of divorce for the same period (Ruger, Wil-(AVF) era; it is a common event that oc- restricted to small, specialized samples. son, & Waddoups, 2002). Such variationscurs at ages during which many men (and The limitations of these samples (lack of in findings are likely due to differences inincreasingly women) are making decisions geographic, racial, and socioeconomic varia- datasets and analysis procedures and high-about education, careers, and intimate re- tion) make it difficult to identify the true light the difficulty in specifying an effect oflationships. Military service also occurs at pattern of change across time. Second, these military service on life course age when service members are forming studies continue to struggle with appropri-lifelong habits that will affect their health in Research on veterans of the Vietnam era ate procedures to deal with selectivity intothe future. tends to be more consistent. This literature the military. This is an especially importantGiven the continuing importance of mili- concern for any life course outcome given generally finds that service during the Viet-tary service in American life, it is important the fact that the military has always screened nam era had little to no effect on risk ofto understand its relationship to important recruits on criteria such as health, education, divorce (Ruger et al., 2002). The literaturecomponents of the life course. In this report mental aptitude, and criminal history. This is also reasonably consistent in finding thatI consider the relationship between military means that military recruits are far from be- combat exposure increases the risk of di-service and several life course outcomes, ing a random subset of all Americans. Third, vorce among veterans of this era. Evidenceincluding crime and delinquency; marriage, the mechanisms through which military for the post-Vietnam era indicates that di-divorce, and cohabitation; socioeconomic service may influence crime and delinquen- vorce rates while serving in the military areattainment; and health. I also indicate some cy remain poorly specified, both within and generally lower than for comparable civil-important limitations in our knowledge base. among different cohorts of veterans. In this the life course continued on page F12family focus // spring 2012 F11
  • 12. Family Focus on... Military Familiesthe life course continued from page F11ians, particularly for Black men (Lundquist, (Fredland & Little, 1980). More recent Health2006; Teachman, 2008). After active-duty research, however, has found little impact A large body of literature has investigatedservice, though, there appears to be little dif- of service during World War II on income, the health consequences of military service.ference between veterans and nonveterans in largely due to increased awareness of the Much of this research focuses on PTSD andthe risk of divorce. need to control for selectivity (Teachman the negative effects of combat. Irrespective & Tedrow, 2004). That is, veterans would of historical era, combat is positively linkedThe literature pertaining to military service, have earned more than nonveterans even if to PTSD and other negative health effectsmarriage, and cohabitation is limited. The they had not served. An exception occurs for (Dobkin & Shabani, 2007). Other researchavailable evidence suggests that rates of Black veterans and veterans with little preser- has linked military service during times ofmarriage are particularly high during active- vice education. Minorities and lesser educat- combat to excess mortality later in life (Be-duty military service in the AVF era, with ed Whites appear to gain some benefit from dard & Deschenes, 2006). The link betweenBlacks being as likely to marry as Whites, military service irrespective of selectivity. combat, PTSD, and mortality is not unex-contrary to the case for civilians. In addi- pected and its pervasiveness across differenttion, the evidence indicates that men serv- This pattern of findings–little to no positive cohorts of veterans speaks to the powerfuling on active duty are much more likely effect of military service on income except impact that highly stressful military servicethan civilian men to choose marriage over for disadvantaged groups–is repeated for can have on the lives of veterans.cohabitation, and active-duty military ser- both the Vietnam and AVF eras (Teachman,vice is strongly linked to the likelihood that 2004; Teachman & Tedrow, 2007). Indeed, A strength of this literature is that it identi-cohabiting unions will be converted into for both eras, White men saw declines in fies mechanisms through which militarymarriages rather than dissolved. Active-duty their civilian incomes as a result of military service negatively affects health. The nega-military service thus appears to be support- service, even when controlling for selectiv- tive mental health effects of experiencingive of marriage. ity. Other research has also found similar combat have been well-identified and ex- results for education only minority men ist across all cohorts of military veterans.The literature linking marriage, divorce, and In addition, the excessive use of tobacco seem to have benefited educationally fromcohabitation is limited in several fashions, among men in the military is a contributor military service (Teachman, 2005). An ex-though. First, it is difficult to obtain con- to their excess mortality (Bedard & De- ception to the pattern for education occurssistent data on these important family life schenes, 2006). A variety of research has for veterans of World War II, however. Thecourse statuses across different historical clearly shown that military service is related availability of the G.I. Bill appears to haveeras. Only more recently have event history to abuse of tobacco and alcohol products. increased the level of education obtained bydata collecting the dates of important transi- Some authors have also tied military service veterans of this era (Stanley, 2003).tions for nationally representative samples to risk-taking behaviors that impact mortal-become available. Second, the mechanisms Even though much has been learned, this ity through accidental deaths (e.g., speeding,linking military service to these family life body of literature too is limited in many motorcycle riding).course events remain unclear. While active- ways. First, there remains a lack of data thatduty service appears to spur marriage, at can be used to compare the consequences of Nevertheless, a significant gap in the litera-least for more recent cohorts, the mecha- military service across different eras. This ture exists, in that there is very little re-nisms by which this occurs remain opaque makes it difficult to understand why changes search that addresses the health implicationsand crudely measured at best. Third, it is not in the consequences of military service may of noncombat military service. While weknown to what extent military service af- have occurred over time. Second, the num- know that veterans who experience combatfects marriage, divorce, and cohabitation af- ber of socioeconomic outcomes that have have more negative health outcomes thanter leaving active duty. Fourth, although we been investigated is limited. Income and noncombat veterans, we do not know howhave begun to accumulate information about education are most commonly considered, noncombat veterans compare to the generala select number of family-related transitions, but outcomes such as occupations, wealth population. On one hand, the screeningother family events such as childbearing, accumulation, and home ownership are process that selects veterans into the ser-child rearing, and kin relationships remain scarcely discussed. Third, paths of socioeco- vice suggests that they should be healthierseverely under researched. nomic attainment, and the interrelationships than nonveterans. On the other hand, poor between various components of attainment health habits (use of tobacco and alcohol)Socioeconomic Attainment learned in the military may operate to negate over the life course, have largely been ig-There is a relatively rich history of research any positive selectivity effect. The existing nored. Only recently have researchers beguninvestigating the consequences of military literature also fails to fully consider how to move beyond static indicators of incomeservice for subsequent socioeconomic at- variations in military service affect health. and education. Fourth, research on socioeco-tainment. Most of this research focuses on For example, are the health-related effects of nomic attainment continues to struggle witheducation and income. The earliest research, military service different for officers versus appropriate controls for selectivity and pre-focused on World War II, suggested con- enlisted men, for different military occu- cise specification of the mechanisms throughsiderable benefit to serving in the military. pational specialties, for different terms of which military service impacts postserviceA number of studies found that veterans of service? In addition, with the exception accomplishments.World War II received an income premium the life course continued on page F13F12 family focus // spring 2012
  • 13. Family Focus on... Military FamiliesMilitary families:What we know and what we don’t knowby Sarah O. Meadows, Ph.D., RAND Corporation, smeadows@rand.orgToday’s soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, argue that it has been renewed over the past RAND’s Children onand Coast Guard members have faced un- decade.) Based on this reinvigorated line of the Homefront studyprecedented stresses, not the least of which research, my goal in this piece is to provide shows that children is repeated, extended deployments to hostile the reader, who may or may not be familiar of currently deployedzones far away from home and friends and with this work, a taste of what we know, and parents have higherfamilies. These stresses have been captured what we don’t, about military families. rates of anxiety symp-by popular media, journalists, politicians, toms than a compa- What We Knowmilitary leaders, and, perhaps most impor- rable national sample Select references for this section can betant for readers of the NCFR Report, fam- of same-aged children found in Hosek (2011).ily scholars. Family researchers–including (by roughly 4%). Sarah Meadowssocial workers, psychologists, sociologists, Military Kids Experience Some Problems Other studies haveeconomists, and others–have brought criti- More Often than Their Civilian Peers reported similar results for behavior prob-cal thinking, advanced methodologies, and Evidence suggests that kids in military fami- lems (e.g., aggressiveness) and internalizingpolicy analysis to a unique population that, lies, especially those who have experienced symptoms (e.g., sadness). An importantin the past, has not often received the kind longer periods of time away from a deployed predictor of how well a child will cope withof attention that their civilian counterparts parent, have significantly higher rates of a parent’s deployment is the health and well-have enjoyed. (For the record, research on problems, especially emotional and behav- being of the child’s nondeployed parent.military families is not new, but I would ioral difficulties, than non-military kids. what we know continued on page F14the life course continued from page F12of tobacco and alcohol use, there is little Bouffard, L. (2005). The military as a bridging and marital dissolution. Armed Forces andindication in the literature of the mecha- environment in criminal careers: Differential Society, 29, 85-107.nisms through which military service affects outcomes of the military experience. Armed Sampson, R., & Laub, J. (1996). Socioeconomic Forces and Society, 41, 491-510. achievement in the life course of disadvantagedhealth. Variations in life course patterns ofeducation, income, and occupational attain- Bouffard, L., & Laub, J. (2004). Jail or the Army: men: Military service as a turning point, circa Does military service facilitate desistance from 1940-1965. American Sociological Review, 61,ment associated with military service may crime? In S. Maruna & R. Immarigeon (eds.), 347-367.impact health outcomes. After crime and punishment (pp. 129-151). Stanley, M. (2003). College education and theSome Final Thoughts London: Willan. midcentury GI bills. Quarterly Journal of Eco-I have noted some of the weaknesses in our Dobkin, C., & Shabani, R. (2007). The health nomics, 118, 671-708.knowledge base with respect to particular effects of military service: Evidence from the Teachman, J. (2004). Military service during Vietnam draft. Economic Inquiry, 45, 112. the Vietnam era: Were there consequences fortopics. Additional weaknesses involve ouralmost complete lack of knowledge about Fredland, J., & Little, R. (1980). Long-term subsequent civilian earnings? Social Forces, returns to vocational training: Evidence from 83, 709-730.the relationship between military service and military sources. Journal of Human Resources, Teachman, J. (2005). Military service in the Viet-the life course outcomes of women veterans. 15, 4966. nam Era and educational attainment. SociologyThe same limitation applies to the life course Lundquist, J. (2006). The Black-White gap in of Education, 78, 50-68.outcomes of veterans who are gay or lesbian. marital dissolution among young adults: What Teachman, J. (2008). Divorce, race, and militaryAs the military becomes more diverse, it is can a counterfactual scenario tell us? Social service: More than equal pay and equal op-important to continue gaining knowledge Problems, 53, 421-441. portunity. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70,about its impact across different groups of Pavalko, E., & Elder, G. (1990). World War II 1030-1044.individuals who choose to serve.  and divorce: A life-course perspective. Ameri- Teachman, J., & Tedrow, L. (2004). Wages, earn- can Journal of Sociology, 95, 1213-1234. ings, and occupational status: Did World WarReferences Pettit, B., & Western, B. (2004). Mass impris- II veterans receive a premium? Social ScienceBedard, K., & Deschenes, O. (2006). The long- onment and the life course: Race and class Research, 33, 581-605. term impact of military service on health: inequality in U.S. incarceration. American Teachman, J., & Tedrow, L. (2007). Joining up: Evidence from World War II and Korean War Sociological Review, 69, 151-169. Did military service in the early all volunteer veterans. American Economic Review, 96, Ruger, W., Wilson, S., & Waddoups, S. (2002). era affect subsequent civilian income? Social 176-194. Warfare and welfare: Military service, combat, Science Research, 36, focus // spring 2012 F13
  • 14. Family Focus on... Military Familieswhat we know continued from page F13Despite Military-Related Stress, Resilience What Exactly is a Military Family? exactly do military families do, and whatis the Norm among Military Families Obviously, it’s a dad who is in the military, resources do they possess, that make themWhile children (and to some degree parents) a mom, and a kid or two, right? Not quite. able to handle deployments, permanentin military families experience a decline Although the two-parent married family is changes in station (or other relocations duein well-being, particularly during parental still the norm among military families, it to military service), parental and spousalabsence due to a deployment, most families is not the only type. Women represent be- absence, and the risk of injury or death?find ways to cope. Prior studies have shown tween 15% and 20% of the overall military What Are the Keys to Successfulthat, during peacetime, kids from military population, depending on branch of service Reintegration After Deployment?families do not differ from their nonmili- (i.e., Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast In a similar vein, we actually know verytary peers in terms of mental health and Guard) and pay grade (i.e., officer versus little about what factors pave the way to abehavioral outcomes, and in some cases, enlisted) (see Demographics 2009, 2009). smooth reintegration process after a familyfare better on these outcomes. Other studies Single-parent families represent just over 5% member returns from a deployment. To date,have found that, although children may have of the current military population (Hosek, military family researchers have primarilyelevated symptoms during a deployment, the 2011). Unmarried and unpartnered service focused on the rapid cycle of deploymentseverity of symptoms often does not reach members are an understudied population, and reintegration. But with ever-increasinga clinical threshold. And recent studies have numbers of servicefound limited (and mixed) evidence of an members returning homeimpact of deployment on specific academic My colleagues at RAND have reported that roughly with no new deploymentoutcomes such as engagement, achieve- 20% of troops returning from Iraq or Afghanistan in sight, we must nowment, and performance. Taken together, this focus on the long-term met the diagnostic criteria for post-traumaticresearch suggests that negative outcomes reintegration of serviceamong military families are not inevitable. stress disorder or depression, and 20% met the members within theirNational Guard and Reserve Families criteria for experiencing a probable traumatic brain families and society. MyOften Face Distinctive Issues injury during their deployment. Arguably, these colleagues at RAND haveDeployments are stressful for all families, reported that roughly 20%but a growing body of research suggests that types of “invisible wounds” are more difficult to of troops returning fromthey can be even more stressful for families manage than more obvious physical injuries. Iraq or Afghanistan metwho are part of the approximately 1.1 mil- the diagnostic criteria forlion service members who are part of Na- post-traumatic stress dis-tional Guard or Reserve units. These families and it is not at all clear what family means order or depression, and 20% met the criteriaoften live far removed from the built-in re- to these individuals. Is it the family of origin for experiencing a probable traumatic brainsources and support systems that are provid- (e.g., parents, siblings), a significant other, or injury during their deployment (Tanielianed to active component families who live on, even Fido or Fluffy? And with the repeal of & Jaycox, 2008). Arguably, these types ofor near, a military base. Children of reserve Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, LGBT families, which “invisible wounds” are more difficult tocomponent members may be the only child to date have been the focus of a very limited manage than more obvious physical their entire school who has a parent in the amount of research, may see a substantial Given the types of injuries that recent vet-military. As a result of their situations, Guard increase in attention from family scholars. erans may experience, possible exposure toand Reserve families often do not know what What Makes a Resilient Military Family horrific events on the battlefield, and beingto expect when a deployment occurs, nor do Resilient? away from home for months at a time, howthey always know where to go for assistance As noted above, the existing body of re- do families cope when a loved one returns?if and when it is needed. Further, teachers, search on military families suggests that What Happens to Military Kids During thepediatricians, psychologists, and other ser- most families are indeed able to cope with Transition to Adulthood and Beyond?vice providers in those communities often do the stresses associated with being a part of A 10-year-old child whose parent deployednot have the military information (e.g., cul- the military. Yet, we do not know exactly in 2001, soon after 9-11, would today betural awareness, knowledge of and access to what it is that makes these families resil- 20 years old. How is that child functioningresources) needed to support these families. ient. Do they have innate skills that make today? Is he or she in college, or workingAnd What We Don’t Know them some-how different from their civilian at a full time job? Has that child joined theAdmittedly, we do know more than the peers? That is, are more resilient families military? Is he or she married, cohabiting, orhandful of things outlined above. But despite selected into the military in the first place? a parent? How does experiencing a parentalthe healthy amount of the existing literature (I suspect the answer is no, but the jury is deployment influence the childparent rela-on military families, there are a number of still out.) Does the military somehow inocu- tionship once the parent comes home andoutstanding questions that for one reason or late families against the deleterious effects the child grows into adulthood? We simplyanother (largely due to a lack of longitudi- of stress? There has been a lot of focus on do not know the answers to these life coursenal data on military families, see Segal & strengthening these “resilient factors” but questions. In some respects these may beKleykamp, 2011) have not been addressed. how effective have those efforts been? What “nice to know” questions, but if you scratch what we know continued on page F15F14 family focus // spring 2012
  • 15. Family Focus on... Military Familieswhat we know continued from page F14the surface you quickly realize that the is that we will have data from three family resource environment like the one we haveanswers have implications for family for- members–service members, their spouses, now. Nonetheless, we must continue to ex-mation patterns, fertility rates, educational and their children, roughly three times per pand our knowledge base, not only becauseattainment, unemployment, poverty, etc. year. Three years x three times a year x three it represents a general contribution to theFurthermore, they could have dramatic im- family members–that’s 27 surveys per fam- scientific community, but also because it’s aplications for the future of our all-volunteer ily. By collecting rich data on military expe- way to say “thank you” to those who mostmilitary, where legacy service members riences, family functioning, and mental and definitely deserve it.are common (Ferris, 1981; Segal & Segal, physical health, we hope to be able to tackle Note2004). some of the tricky questions that remain Many thanks to my colleagues BenjaminHow Do We Integrate Research and Civilian elusive to military family researchers. Karney and Anita Chandra for providingand Military Services to Provide the Most Certainly my colleagues and I at RAND are feedback on this piece. Effective Support for Military Families? not the only researchers investigating issuesFinally, when it comes to policy, we have surrounding military families. The Military Referencesnot yet been completely successful in inte- Family Research Institute at Purdue Uni- Demographics 2009: Profile of the military com-grating research and support services. Last versity is conducting a longitudinal study of munity (Office of the Deputy Under SecretaryApril I attended the 2011 Family Resilience of Defense, Military Community and Family National Guard families. And in 2010 the Policy, 2009), http://www.militaryhomefrontConference cosponsored by the U.S. De- Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel of Defense (DoD) and the U.S and Readiness, with the help of the Defense taryHOMEFRONT/QOL%20Resources/Re-Department of Agriculture (USDA). At this Manpower Data Center, launched the Mili- ports/2009_Demographics_Report.pdfpoint you may be asking yourself why the tary Family Life Project, a study of roughly Ferris, J. H. (1981). The all-volunteer force–Re-USDA cohosted a conference with the DoD? 30,000 service members and their spouses. cruiting from military families. Armed ForcesI will spare you the details, but basically A follow-up survey will take place during and Society, 7, universities (e.g., Penn State, the next year. And the First Lady’s Joining Hosek, J. (2011). How is deployment to Iraq andOhio, Cornell) have mandatory Cooperative Forces initiative may provide more chances Afghanistan affecting U.S. service membersExtension Services with a mission to (more for researchers to interact with peers outside and their families? An overview of early RANDor less) serve the public good (U.S. Depart- academia. These and other similar efforts research on the topic. OP-316-DOD. Santament of Agriculture, 2011; see Proclamation, should keep us all busy for a while. Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.2011). In this case, that public good meant Proclamation in recognition of Department of I may be biased, but I think it is an incred- Defense/Department of Agriculture extension-getting researchers, policymakers, and ibly exciting time to be a family scholarservice providers in one room and forcing military partnership [Proclamation]. (2011). interested in the health and well-being of to talk to each other. In many respects our military families. Arguably, never be- Proclamation.pdfI think we were all a little outside of our fore in our nation’s history have our service Segal, D. R., & Kleykamp, M. (2011). Long-comfort zones. But what I quickly realized members and their families been so chal- term consequences of modern military service,is that as a researcher I have to find a way lenged and never before have their struggles connect with these folks. I cannot expect (and successes) been the topic of so much Segal_David_184.pdfthem to read the most recent copy of JMF scholarly attention. The work we do makes a Segal, D. R., & Segal, M. W. (2004). America’sor Armed Forces and Society. (I rarely have real difference for these families–as a policy military population. Population Bulletin, 59.time to do that myself!) And by the same researcher I am lucky enough to see that first Tanielian, T. L., & Jaycox, L. (2008). Invisibletoken, from their perspective on the ground, hand. And the work we do in understanding wounds of war: Psychological and cognitivethey need to tell me what works and what how these families confront stress has impli- injuries, their consequences, and services todoes not, what is feasible to implement and cations for the larger body of family stress assist recovery. MG-720-CCF. Santa Monica,what is not, and what helps and what hurts. CA: RAND Corporation. and coping research.Forward, March! U.S. Department of Agriculture (2011). About Although we know a lot about what it means Us: Cooperative Extension System Offices,Given the gaps outlined above, how do we to be a military family, our work is not done. to fill them? One way to potentially It will likely be difficult to prioritize the White House. (2011). Joining forces. http://www.address many of these issues is with the many unanswered questions in a constrained of longitudinal data, of which we havesurprisingly little when it comes to militaryfamilies. That’s why I am so excited to bea part of RAND’s Deployment Life Study.Over the next 3 years we will follow some2,000 military families, both active andreserve components, across the deploy-ment cycle from preparing, to being away,to returning home. And even more excitingfamily focus // spring 2012 F15
  • 16. Family Focus on... Military FamiliesReturning home: What we know aboutthe reintegration of deployed service membersinto their families and communitiesby Lydia I. Marek, Ph.D., LMFT,, Family and Community Research Laboratory, Virginia Tech,W. Glenn Hollingsworth, M.A., Carissa D’Aniello, M.A., Kathleen O’Rourke, M.A., Donna-Jean P. Brock, M.A.,Lyn Moore, M.A., John L. Butler VI, M.S., Jing Zhang, M.S., Bradford Wiles, M.A.According to the Department of Defense, as persist for months to years depending on the prior to deployment or that the structure thatof June 30, 2011, 203,400 military person- individual service member, his or her family, emerged during deployment will remain.nel, including reserve and National Guard and the fuller context of the service mem- Lack of appropriate expectations and com-members, were currently on deployment ber’s life. Notably, although many service munication around this restructuring is ain Iraq or Afghanistan. As nearly one half members, spouses, and children or youth frequent source of conflict and stress forof all military personnel are parents, and demonstrate great resilience during what reintegrating families.with almost two million children having a can be a smooth and joyful reintegration Those involved with military families mustmilitary parent, there are a growing number process, many individuals and families have understand the reintegration process and itsof families who are experiencing or have difficulties with this stage of deployment. effects on the service member and his orexperienced the strain of wartime deploy- Reintegration can be a turbulent time for her family, because this multifaceted periodments. These deployments are characterized the family, as members must re-form into a of time has been found to have a profoundby lengthy and multiple separations that put functioning system. Some studies suggest impact on multiple life domains. With thestress on family functioning, structure, and that relationship stress and negative family current drawdown of troops in Iraq, thiscohesion. In addition, the effects of these reintegration process is even more importantdeployments, with their related difficulties, Reactions to the return of the for researchers and practitioners to under-can spill over into domains outside of the deployed service member can vary stand so that critical supports for returninghome and affect individual and social func- service members and their families can betioning. Military personnel, program provid- wildly; some spouses report developed, implemented, and evaluated.ers, and helping professionals are becoming not having to adjust at all during This article provides a brief overview ofmore interested in and concerned about the reintegration while others report main issues in the process of reintegrationstage of deployment known as reintegration for service members, spouses, children, andor postdeployment. Understanding this stage that their deployed partner is the family unit, and concludes with futureis especially important at this time, given the no longer the same person research needs.current drawdown of troops. With the num-ber of returning service members increasing, they knew previously, making The Experience of Reintegrationthey and their families must now reassemble for a rather difficult adjustment. Service Memberstheir lives after each member has experi- During the service member’s reentry to theenced profound change. home, he or she faces physical, psychologi- function may reach a peak between 4 to 9 cal (e.g., symptoms related to an experienceReintegration is the stage of the deployment months after the service member’s return. of trauma), and social challenges. Adler,cycle (predeployment, deployment, postde- One of the greatest challenges for these Zamorski, and Britt (2011) suggested aployment or reintegration) characterized by families appears to be renegotiating family model of service member transition in whichthe service member’s reentry into his or her roles as the service member encounters the the effect of deployment-related variables daily life as experienced prior to deploy- often-unexpected difficulty of fitting into a (deployment experiences, anticipation ofment, or into a new civilian life, including home routine that has likely changed a great homecoming, and meaningfulness) on do-the domains of work, family, and personal deal since his or her departure. Typically, mains of postdeployment transition (physi-experiences. Most often, this stage is an- over the course of one or more deployments, cal, emotional, and social) are moderated byother predeployment, given the operational the at-home parent and children (especially the service member’s decompression, or thetempo of the last 10 years; meaning that adolescents who are more capable of provid- psychological transition from functioningmost service members are already preparing ing greater instrumental support within the in a high-stress and pressure-filled environ-for another deployment immediately upon home) assume new responsibilities such that ment to one of less stress and pressure (inreturn to their families. Despite much litera- when the service member returns, there may other words, the psychological processesture suggesting that the reintegration stage be expectations among family members that involved in going from battlefield tolasts several months, this stage can actually things will either return to how they were returning home continued on page F17F16 family focus // spring 2012
  • 17. Family Focus on... Military Familiesreturning home continued from page F16bedroom), his or her personal narrative during that time. Chandra and colleagues increased parental attention during reinte-around military experiences, unit variables, (2011) found the following challenges ex- gration and often did not understand whyand the anticipation of redeployment. These pressed by spouses related to reintegration: they did not receive it. Youth adjustmenttransition domains can then directly affect may be moderated by age, gender, and cu- 1. Fitting the deployed spouse back into thethe quality of one’s health, work, relation- mulative length of deployment, such that home routine;ships, and an overall ability to enjoy life. older girls who experienced longer parental 2. Rebalancing child responsibilities;Studies have identified specific challenges deployments were at greater risk for rein- 3. Getting to know the deployed spouse again;facing reintegrating service members as tegration difficulties. Boys, on the other 4. Worrying about the next deployment;follows: hand, may have more difficulty adjusting to 5. Dealing with the deployed spouse’s mood reduced autonomy and increased structure1. Feeling like they no longer fit into their changes; and when the deployed parent returns home. families due to the family changes that 6. Deciding who to turn to for advice. occurred in their absence, including the In spite of their challenges, many children Some mitigating factors that are associ- normative development and maturation of demonstrate remarkable resilience during ated with the reintegration process include children and the increased competence of deployment and reintegration. Chandra and frequency of contact during deployment, the spouse who has taken over many of colleagues (2011) reported that when con- overall adjustment to deployment, use the tasks and roles that were previously cerns did arise, they tended to focus on: of military support programs, and age of completed by the service member. 1. Adjusting to fit the deployed parent back children. Negative communications with2. A feeling of separation for returning ser- into the home routine; the service member, negative beliefs in the vice members from the culture to which 2. Worrying about the next deployment; value of the service member’s mission, and they return. Several reasons were cited 3. Dealing with the service member’s mood the service member’s exposure to combat such as lack of respect from civilians (in- changes; were significant predictors of wives’ stress cluding a loss of status and self-esteem), 4. Worrying about how parents are getting during postdeployment. Making sense of the the belief that they hold themselves to along; deployment process in general and making a higher standard than civilians, and the 5. Becoming reacquainted with the service appropriate attributions of the military part- complexity of “normal” life. member; and ner’s behavior in particular (e.g., if trauma3. Difficulties related to interpersonal inter- 6. Deciding who to turn to for support and symptoms are present) are valuable in re- actions (including those with their partners advice. ducing reintegration stress. and children) due to low frustration toler- ance, poor anger management, difficulties Military Children/Youth Military Families in coping and self-regulation, hypervigi- Reintegration can be a very difficult time for Family adjustment depends on a variety of lance, and social withdrawal. Many of children and youth. While proud of their de- factors, and although a majority of families these could be characterized as post-trau- ployed parent, many report feelings of loss, make the appropriate adaptations during matic stress symptoms and may also in- loneliness, and worry for the safety of their postdeployment and demonstrate a great clude increased alcohol use and heightened military parent during deployment and fre- degree of resilience, many report difficulties. symptoms of depression and anxiety. quently must take on more responsibilities The family dynamics created during deploy- in the home. The child or youth may eagerly ment are often challenged during reintegra-Spouses of Service Members tion. Mechanisms of risk for these families, anticipate reconnecting with the servicePincus, House, Christensen, and Adler identified by Saltzman and colleagues member parent who returns. Nevertheless,(2001) postulated that postdeployment is ar- (2011), include: both parent and child may have undergoneguably the most important stage for the ser- significant changes during deployment, thus 1. An incomplete understanding of thevice member and spouse as they often must heightening the unpredictability of this time impact of deployment and combat opera-reduce expectations, take time to become re- for everyone. tional stress;acquainted with one another, and build com-munication. Reactions to the return of the A variety of factors, such as a child’s stage 2. Inaccurate developmental expectations;deployed service member can vary wildly; of development (emotional, cognitive, or 3. Impaired family communication;some spouses report not having to adjust at physical), the at-home caregiver’s satisfac- 4. Impaired parenting practices;all during reintegration while others report tion with military and community support, 5. Impaired family organization; andthat their deployed partner is no longer the the individual adjustment and emotional 6. A lack of a guiding belief system (i.e.,same person they knew previously, making development of the parents, and the degree values or beliefs that enable a family tofor a rather difficult adjustment. Despite the of marital stability can all affect a child’s make sense of and find meaning in theirpotential for positive effects of reintegration adjustment to reunion and reintegration. circumstances or a difficult situation).(e.g., greater appreciation for one’s family, Studies have found that children and youth Pincus and colleagues (2011) also suggestpersonal growth), spouses may experience expressed difficulty relating to the reinte- that there are a number of adaptations thata loss of the independence gained during grating parent due to the physical, mental, can serve as protective factors and ease thethe service member’s deployment and the and emotional changes that resulted from returning home continued on page F18loss of the social support networks formed deployment. Children reportedly expectedfamily focus // spring 2012 F17
  • 18. Family Focus on... Military FamiliesTeaching about military families:Lessons from the fieldby Tara Saathoff-Wells, Ph.D., CFLE, ; Amy Dombro, M.S.; Karen Blaisure, Ph.D., CFLE;Angela Pereira (Col., U.S. Army, Ret.), Ph.D., MSW; Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, Ph.D., CFLEIntroduction to support military and veteran families as disseminates results that students read; Amy,This article focuses on college-level courses they enter, complete, leave, and deal with the writer, listens to families and createsabout military families. The authors of this the aftermath of their military service. Simi- support materials that students read and canarticle have just finished collaborating on lar to our recent cowriting experience, the share with families; and Tara and Karen, thea textbook about military families aimed development and implementation of Karen instructors, facilitate undergraduates training to become help- and Tara’s courses involved purposeful Although the number of service membersing professionals. The book was inspired in collaboration with a range of professionals and veterans is relatively small comparedlarge part by the courses developed by two and families within the military and veteran to the U.S. population as a whole, they andof the authors, Karen Blaisure and Tara Saa- population. Each of the authors played a many more millions of moms, dads, sib-thoff-Wells. As a group, our goal is to work role in the courses, some of which were lings, and other family members have beento ensure that the next generation of profes- more visible than others: Angela, as a career deeply influenced by the conflicts of the pastsionals from disciplines like family stud- Army social worker, is a professional who decade as well as earlier conflicts. Thus, allies, counseling, social work, psychology, does the work that students need to know; professionals working with families are nowstudent affairs, and others are well-prepared Shelley, a researcher, conducts studies and lessons from the field continued on page F19returning home continued from page F17family into the reintegration process. These sion. Other limits of reintegration research and civilian community would be neededinclude: thus far include the following: for such a research agenda and is essential if we are to assist in building the resiliency1. Being able to have role flexibility with the 1. Many service members have been sur- of military families during the potentially ability to perform multiple roles; veyed about their experiences of reinte- difficult and multidimensional process of2. Using active coping skills; gration years after returning from deploy- reintegration. 3. Maintaining contact through e-mail and ment (rather than during or immediately letter writing during deployment; following postdeployment); References4. Having all family members maintain real- 2. Measures used have reported limited Adler, A. B., Zamorski, M., & Britt, T. W. (2011). istic expectations during this reintegration psychometric information; The psychology of transition: Adapting to home process; 3. Most current research is cross-sectional after deployment. In Adler, A. B., Bliese, P. D.,5. Developing a shared family narrative and with some notable exceptions; & Castro, C. A. (eds.), Deployment psychol- collaborative meaning-making; 4. Data are seldom gathered from multiple ogy. Washington, DC: American Psychological6. Open communication in the family; and informants; and Association.7. Effective parental leadership. 5. There is insufficient attention to theory, Chandra, A., Lara-Cinisomo, S., Jaycox, L. H., thereby limiting the application and build- Tanielian, T., Han, B., Burns, R. M., & Ruder,Next Steps T. (2011). Views from the homefront: The ing of family stress and resilience researchOur current knowledge of reintegration experiences of youth and spouses from military and understanding.experiences, how they unfold over time, and families. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corpora-their consequences is for the most part based Addressing these deficits would enrich our tion.on research using largely clinical samples knowledge of the process of reintegration Pincus, S. H., House, R., Christenson, J., &focusing on service member experiences of and help highlight the stressors and resil- Adler, L. E. (2001). The emotional cycle ofpost-traumatic stress disorder and its impact ience factors in military families. More deployment: A military family perspective. U.S.on the marital relationship and parenting. research that is family-focused and longitu- Army Medical Department Journal, 2, 21-29.Such a focus obscures the fact that even in dinal, using nonclinical samples and mea- Saltzman, W. R., Lester, P., Beardslee, W. R.,the absence of formal mental health diagno- sures that have demonstrated psychometrics, Layne, C. M., Woodward, K., & Nash, W. P. (2011). Mechanisms of risk and resilience inses for service members, difficulties can and is needed. This understanding could then military families: Theoretical and empiricaldo arise, thus warranting further research lead to the development, implementation, basis of a family-focused resilience enhance-with nonclinical samples. There is a need for and evaluation of effective support programs ment program. Clinical Child and Familya greater balance between strengths-based or and services targeted at each of these groups Psychology Review, 14, 213-230. doi:10.1007/family resilience approaches and those em- during specific time periods. Strong and s10567-011-0096-1phasizing psychopathology and its transmis- effective collaboration between the militaryF18 family focus // spring 2012
  • 19. Family Focus on... Military Familieslessons from the field continued from page F18likely to encounter military and veteran mend that instructors take time at the be- installation. At the VA medical center, a psy-families in their practices even if they work ginning of a course to familiarize students chologist discussed PTSD treatment; at thein the civilian community. with hallmarks of military culture; of basic national cemetery, staff discussed how they organizational characteristics of the different assist families with arrangements. DuringThe support our society offers military fami- branches, including active duty and ready another class session, our coauthor, retiredlies has grown from a seed to a twig over reserve; and of common experiences of mili- Army Colonel Angela Pereira, skyped intothe last few years. But we need to offer them tary family life compared, when possible, to our classrooms sharing her experiences asthe support of a tree for the good of military civilian families. a career Army social worker and answeringfamilies and our country. Courses like this questions from students. These experienceswill help. KLC, WMU student As we mark almost a decade of sustained bring information about military families to military action in Iraq and Afghanistan,Course Structure and Content life in a way that a standard seminar format other topics have been added into ourKaren, at Western Michigan University, and cannot duplicate. courses. Emerging research on stress andTara, at Central Michigan University, both resilience regarding multiple deployments Instructor Knowledge and Preparationdeveloped and taught courses on military and combat-affected families (spouse’s Because there are currently 30 million vet-families during the past 5 years. Most hu- and children’s well-being, family violence, erans and 2.2 million service members andman development and family studies pro- their families, college and university instruc- substance abuse, and changes in close andgrams in the United States do not regularly extended family relationships), visible and tors may be part of an extended militaryoffer a course on military families, so fol- invisible wounds, and service member death family. While this is appreciated by studentslowing university guidelines for special-top- now take a more prominent place in our and is a means of gaining initial credibility,ics courses may be necessary. The following courses than they did 5 years ago. In earlier experience as a military family member isitems are examples of what Tara and Karenconsidered in developing their courses: We strongly recommend that instructors take time at the beginning of weekend A format. We both found that a a course to familiarize students with hallmarks of military culture; weekend format worked well, whether of- of basic organizational characteristics of the different branches, fering a 1-credit or 3-credit version of our courses. A large block of time allowed for including active duty and ready reserve; and of common experiences deeper discussion of topics, for extended of military family life compared, when possible, to civilian families. time with guests, and for unique field trip opportunities. iterations of our classes, students were ask- not necessary to teach a course on military Flexible course numbers. These courses ing “Where is the research on families, chil- families. Building from respect for military were offered at a level that allowed both dren, loss, and deployments?” Now we can families, instructors can engage in the study graduate and advanced undergraduate point to a rapidly growing body of literature and activities required to prepare and deliver students to enroll. that examines these questions. Discussions a high-quality course. Online course-management systems. on new military and civilian initiatives built If you aren’t a member of a military family, An online platform helped structure from this research and practice innovations be up front about it. If you are knowledge- homework and reading assignments and are also included. able, share stories you have gathered, kept dialogue about topics active via Assignments and field trip/guest speaker and bring in guest speakers with military discussion boards and resource sharing opportunities offer variation in integrating backgrounds, you will have credibility. KH, between class sessions. course content. For example, students find it CMU student CVIT and Skype™. Compressed Video informative to investigate local veterans’ or- Interactive Technology allowed us to ganizations such as the Veterans of Foreign An instructor’s knowledge should span stream class sessions with each other Wars or Student Veterans of America. They military culture (e.g., values, mission, chain throughout the semester. Additionally, may collate resources for returning National of command, service before self, language), classes could “share” guest speakers, cre- Guard families or volunteer in a Yellow Rib- active and reserve components (i.e., reserves ating an open dialogue across sites. Skype bon reintegration weekend. and National Guard), and the Departments ™ enabled video conference calls with of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Familiarity guests who were not local to one of our In fall 2010, we coordinated our classes at with recent research on military families is universities. We also became good friends WMU and CMU and met together for a joint central to an instructor’s knowledge and in- with our local IT gurus. (Note that tech field trip to an Air National Guard base on a cludes factors that support family resilience, support availability for a weekend class drill weekend, a VA hospital, and a national the implications for adults and children of may be challenging on your campus; check cemetery. During the base visit, the family separations due to training and deployment, beforehand!) readiness manager, the chaplain, and a first relocations, service members’ 24/7 “on call” sergeant described their work and reactions status, and visible and invisible injuries.Course content is a combination of back- to deployment. We toured the facilities and Instructors also need to know military andground information and current trends in ate lunch in the cafeteria, providing someresearch and practice. We strongly recom- students their first experience on a military lessons from the field continued on page F20family focus // spring 2012 F19
  • 20. Family Focus on... Military Familieslessons from the field continued from page F19civilian resources for military, as well as coordinated 2010 courses, several gradu- barriers in their knowledge about militarycontent found in key reports, research ar- ate students in a student affairs program at subculture and comfort in working withticles, and books (see Recommended Re- WMU had experience working with student military families. When a professional issources, below). veterans and with military family members more familiar with and more comfortableTheory and praxis are necessary to address who were attending college while a loved working with military families, and whentension between content that focuses on one was deployed. Students at CMU were military family members understand that aservice members and content that focuses both undergraduate and graduate students professional acknowledges, appreciates, andon family members. Helping students frame in Human Development and Family Stud- understands what it is to be part of a militaryintricate, contextual influences for individual ies whose career goals included working as family, the helping relationship can developand family resilience requires taking time civilians on military installations in child, and thrive. Even students who have been inthroughout the semester to revisit theoretical youth, and family programs. the military or have been part of a militaryconcepts and models so that they can create Students also vary in their political or social family will benefit from being able to looka robust theoretical foundation. views that intersect with their interests in a at the military culture and military family course about military families. For example, life from another point of view with otherDeveloping positive relationships with on- students. They will gain a better appreciation when thinking about course policy andcampus and local military groups can be of how life differs for civilian and military expectations for civil discourse, we havemutually beneficial. A course on military families in general and will be able to work found it helpful to think ahead about how tofamilies adds to a supportive climate for with military families whose experiences address topics and facilitate classroom andmilitary students, veterans, and their families. and needs are different from their own. online discussions on issues such as politicalIn turn, members of these groups often are stances on current military actions and so- Courses on working with military familieseager to be guest speakers. If a college or cial views on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t should have the goals of helping profession-university has a department of Military Sci- Tell or women serving in combat positions. als become competent in their knowledgeence (responsible for the training of ReserveOfficers Training Corps students), it is staffed Guest speakers provide some students their about military family life and developingby active-duty members, typically willing to first experience talking with a service mem- professional skills that enhance effectivemake presentations on military culture. Mem- ber or veteran, as well as the opportunity to interactions. These goals can be achievedbers of the campus military student/veteran hear about the highs and lows of military when students:office or organization can describe reintegra- life. Discuss with guest speakers what to • are introduced to military members, veter-tion and the transition to or back to college cover. At times, what they say may chal- ans, and their families;life. Family program staff at a local National lenge students, and how students respond • share personal experiences as or with mili-Guard unit (e.g., Military Family Life Con- may challenge speakers. These are opportu- tary members and families;sultants, Director of Psychological Services), nities for respectful dialogue. • acquire a basic understanding of militaryreserve unit (e.g., Family Readiness Man- Field trips to nearby Army or Air National structure and history;ager), or active-duty base or post can describe Guard installations during a drill weekend • learning about the culture of the militarytheir day-to-day work with military families. offer both opportunities and examples of and the nature of military service, includ-Opportunities and Challenges challenges for faculty and students. Dates of ing the fact that many military and familyStudents enrolled in a military family course a drill weekend may change, allowing stu- members may not agree politically withvary in knowledge of and comfort with the dents to experience a bit of what it is like to the missions of the military, but feel theymilitary and in motivation for taking the rearrange personal and professional sched- must carry out whatever missions the na-course. Some may be limited to what they ules in response to a military decision. tion has deemed necessary, because theyhave learned from media accounts while Why Courses Like This Matter to have vowed to do so; andothers have lived in the military culture for Military Families • exploring the role(s) and stance of a help-years. Other students may take the course Perhaps the most important contribution ing professional when it comes to support-for personal reasons, such as marrying a a course on military families can make in ing families.service member. Yet others enroll because educating current or future professionals is These course contents help professionalsthey realize issues military families face imparting to them a greater understanding of develop empathy for military families thewill continue even if current military actions the culture of military life. Military service single most important characteristic for acome to a close and as a professional they is a subculture of American life. If we can helping professional and help them to be-will be responding to these implications for convey to students what it means to be part come compassionate professionals who arerest of their professional lives. of a military family and help them feel more knowledgeable about the population theyStudents’ experiences with the military often comfortable working with those families, will serve.have been with one branch of the military we will give them the greatest tools in their lessons from the field continued on page 9or one population (e.g., returning veterans). work with this population.A course on military families offers them Military members and families relate best to For permission to use NCFR’sthe opportunity to share their knowledge and trust those who understand them, which Family Focus call 888-781-9331.while also expanding it. For example, in our means that professionals need to addressF20 family focus // spring 2012