Groups » Understanding the Pressures and Challenges for Military Families

The American Armed Forces has a proud tradition of supporting the culture of family life within each of its service divisions. Did you know, for instance, that a member of the U.S. military can earn additional pay and benefits if they are married? The intention of the incentivization of family life is to provide military personnel with a foundation of support, understanding, and companionship that can help them emotionally weather adverse trauma, stress, and anxiety that is part of military service and active duty.

Military families are subjected to adversities that can impact the stability of the family unit, however, as occupational stresses and health risks can have a long-term toll on relationships. By taking a closer look at some of the unique adversities that military families face, we can deepen our commitment to provide empathy, support, and resources for them.

Post-Traumatic Stress and the Impact on Military Families

One of the more commonly understood side-effects for military personnel is the prevalence of stress-related mental health concerns, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can occur after any life-threatening event. Military personnel with combat experience are placed in situations frequently, where they may have a moderate expectation of survival and witness some of the atrocities and violence associated with war; the trauma can last a lifetime. Military service people with PTSD present with social phobias, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and may be prone to violent verbal outbursts or long-term dysphoria.

Military members deployed or on active status are not the only personnel who experience significant stress and strain on their domestic partnerships. Army Reserve divorce lawyers reveal that part-time deployment and training can also have a detrimental impact on family life, the ability to cope with stress, and added pressures from frequent travel to injuries sustained by training or in the field.

Children in Military Families Face Special Challenges

Per a recent census, there are more than two million children under the age of 18 who live with parents who are listed in active service to the United States Armed Forces.

More than two million children have one or more parents who were deployed to the UAE and middle east for military operations. For children born into military families, there are unique emotional and lifestyle experiences that can create trauma and social problems. More than 900,000 children in the United States have experienced the deployment of both parents for military service, at the same time leaving children in the care of a relative or friend for 1-3 years on average.

In the formative years, living with the absence of parents due to active service and living with the uncertainty and stress of mortality that children must confront, it is no surprise that children from military families have higher instances of certain behaviors or psycho-social conditions. In the Afghanistan wars alone, an estimated 68,360 family members were impacted by loss and bereavement. From depression and anxiety to violent behaviors, verbal abuse, and other actions of frustration, children exposed to stress and adversity through military life require ongoing guidance, acceptance, and support to cope.

Parental absence and loss are not the only emotional adjustments that military children must confront. The average serviceman or woman (and their families) are deployed every 1-3 years, while in active service. Deployment can also be domestic, as the U.S. Armed Forces requires military families to move and be stationed at different bases, depending on need. For children, the constant requirement to move homes, schools, and lose friends in the process is painful and disruptive to normalized social development.

Military children often feel that they lack a 'solid base' or a sense of being rooted within the community, thanks to frequent geographic moves. A sense of honor and duty prevail in families where one or more parent is an active service person, but that does not make it any less difficult for children to adapt to constant, and sometimes catastrophic changes and upheaval in their lives.

Military Kids Connect (MKC) is a program that is offered by the National Military Family Association, and it is designed for children between the ages of six through 17 years. The site is completely designed to address the 'unique psychological challenges' that children experience, while growing up in military life. One of the most important aspects of the program is education and the development of skills that help children understand military service, and the transitions and challenges that families face together.

The goal is to build resilience in America's military families and help them adopt methodologies that will minimize stress. The Military Kids Connect (MKC) program also provides training for parents to help them understand the leadership and compassion required to guide children through some of the challenges of military life. The program also works to help reduce the divorce rate among military couples by providing awareness and education.

At times, society may demonstrate a certain level of apathy toward military families, as it is deemed to be an occupation of choice, not necessity, with the freedom to choose another means of earning a living. The 'caveat emptor' approach is both unfair and diminishes the sacrifice that men and women in the military make for international peace, and the important role that the United States of America performs through all divisions of the U.S. Armed Forces.

From active duty personnel to retired veterans, military families have special needs and have earned the right through their service to the support, compassion, and community and mental health services that are needed.

(Image Source)

Join this group! Login with facebook