Deployment-Related Stress & Support Needs

Research Paper Title

“This is not your Life…and it becomes your Life”: A Qualitative Exploration of Deployment-related Stress and Support needs in National Guard and Reserve spouses who are Mothers of Young Children.

Background

The adverse effects of deployment-related stress (DRS) on military service members, spouses, and children are well documented.

Findings from a recent Consensus Report on Military Families by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (2019) underscore the priority of gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the diversity of today’s military families and their needs and well-being.

While social support is generally regarded as helpful during times of stress, it has not been studied extensively in National Guard/Reserve spouses who are parents of young children.

Methods

This qualitative study of 30 women examines the unique ways in which DRS affects women who are National Guard/Reserve spouses and mothers of young children, as well as the processes through which they encountered support to manage these stressors.

Salient themes spanned experiences involving deployment cycle phases of separation and reintegration and included both anticipated and unanticipated changes in family-related division of labour, dynamics, and communication patterns.

These were complicated by geographic, social, and cultural isolation and misguided efforts to support spouses initiated by civilians.

Conclusions

Women managed these stressors primarily through seeking, acquiring, and repurposing existing sources of informal social support for themselves and formal supports for their children, with varying degrees of success.

Reference

Ross, A.M., DeVoe, E.R., Steketee, G., Spencer, R. & Richter, M. (2020) “This is not your Life…and it becomes your Life”: A Qualitative Exploration of Deployment-related Stress and Support needs in National Guard and Reserve spouses who are Mothers of Young Children. Family Process. doi: 10.1111/famp.12622. Online ahead of print.

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