A 2011 Rand study, Views from the Homefront, found that the emotional well-being of non-deployed parents has more significant impact on children’s social, emotional and academic success than any other factor. Families exhibiting higher degrees of empathy and stronger communication skills reported the fewest challenges.
Comparison Rates of Emotional Difficulties in Military and Non-military Children
In Views from the Home Front, a 2009 a longitudinal study of 1500 military kids experienced with deployment, caregivers reported higher levels of emotional difficulties than were found in a national peer group sample. Thirty percent of these children reported symptoms of elevated anxiety, twice the rate of other children. Rates of academic engagement, peer and family functioning, and risk behaviors were similar to youth in the general population.
(Rand Center for Military Health Policy Research)
For the last decade, one percent of Americans — about 3 million service members and their immediate families — have born the full burden of two wars. It’s time to focus attention on the next ten years and on what we must change to preserve — and deserve — our all-volunteer military.
We are just beginning to understand the impact of unprecedented multiple deployments on the mental health of families. Never in our history have so few done so much for so long.
Fortunately, most families survive, and some emerge even stronger. We have much to learn from them. But for others, the stress is overwhelming. Spouses and children may develop depression, anxiety, sleep disorders or substance abuse problems that require treatment. Far too often, they don’t get it, due to lack of awareness, limited services and fear of stigma.
This blog will curate news, research, resources and trends related to the mental health of military families. By educating ourselves on the scope and nature of these challenges, the 99% of us who do not serve can better advocate for the attention and resources these families are due.