Deployment and the Military Spouse

Deployments are part of the military life. The longer a military couple is married, the better they become at navigating the stressors of deployment. Out of necessity, spouses develop skills to carry the family through the forced times apart, yet deployments impact every family long after the deployment is completed. Over 44% of spouses report moderate depressive symptoms during the deployment, but 75% of military spouses think that the first three months after a deployment are more stressful than the actual deployment. The most at risk population are those families who are younger and with less resources are at the highest risk for divorce or family conflict during this time. While the military has a resiliency training requirement for military members, this important skill is often ignored for family members.

Resiliency classes emphasize and promote positive attributes and strategies. One basic skill teaches individuals to identify small things that the individual is grateful for. In the very act of recognizing what is going right, positive emotions are reinforced which helps with adaptation and optimal functioning. The more positive skills that an individual can deploy, the less maladaptive skills an individual will utilize.

Essentially, while the deployments are not going to end, young families or families facing deployment for the first time in a long time, need support. These families would benefit from a resiliency program that emphasizes connections to others, goal setting, ways to eliminate obsessive thinking, positive meaning making, and positive coping strategies. While attendees of formal training report positive changes, only 25% of enlisted spouses attend in-person training. This is the at risk population, thus the time has come to consider other methods of getting the training or support out to our spouses.

Social media in terms of closed support groups can be one avenue. I know that I belong to three such groups of families/spouses or military members who suffered loss. We support one another. Sometimes the activity level or need is low, but holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and stressful times (both good and bad) are a good time to check in and to remind people of the skills they have and of methods to reinforce those skills. It is a good way to connect especially if the family member is isolated out of choice or other factors.

Another option might be to consider a peer mentorship program in which a deployed spouse is connected to another spouse by age, gender, family status, rank, etc. It may be that the deployed spouse does not want to be checked on, but that checks and balances is a good way to remind the individual that they are not alone, that there are resources available, and that someone cares. It can be overwhelming when the commander’s wife calls a young wife, but a personal touch of many on a semi-regular basis creates that caring community the extends beyond the deployment.

Another way to connect is through the mail. Through the use of a handwritten note or card, Everybody likes mail. As part of the note, gentle reminders as to Hearts Apart or squadron functions can be given. Often when the spouse is deployed, the spouse at home is forgotten in unit family activities. When a family is only included when the military member is at home, a message is sent that the family only matters when the military member is present.

When a spouse or when a family is not coping well, it equates to increased severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms, divorce, decreased job satisfaction, and poor mental health in all family members. Resiliency training and positive coping strategies cannot be isolated to the military member, but we as a village need to look for techniques to extend our reach and embed those skills in our military community and families. I welcome your suggestions at any time.

Deployments are part of the military life. The longer a military couple is married, the better they become at navigating the stressors of deployment. Out of necessity, spouses develop skills to carry the family through the forced times apart, yet deployments impact every family long after the deployment is completed. Over 44% of spouses report moderate depressive symptoms during the deployment, but 75% of military spouses think that the first three months after a deployment are more stressful than the actual deployment. The most at risk population are those families who are younger and with less resources are at the highest risk for divorce or family conflict during this time. While the military has a resiliency training requirement for military members, this important skill is often ignored for family members.

Resiliency classes emphasize and promote positive attributes and strategies. One basic skill teaches individuals to identify small things that the individual is grateful for. In the very act of recognizing what is going right, positive emotions are reinforced which helps with adaptation and optimal functioning. The more positive skills that an individual can deploy, the less maladaptive skills an individual will utilize.

Essentially, while the deployments are not going to end, young families or families facing deployment for the first time in a long time, need support. These families would benefit from a resiliency program that emphasizes connections to others, goal setting, ways to eliminate obsessive thinking, positive meaning making, and positive coping strategies. While attendees of formal training report positive changes, only 25% of enlisted spouses attend in-person training. This is the at risk population, thus the time has come to consider other methods of getting the training or support out to our spouses.

Social media in terms of closed support groups can be one avenue. I know that I belong to three such groups of families/spouses or military members who suffered loss. We support one another. Sometimes the activity level or need is low, but holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and stressful times (both good and bad) are a good time to check in and to remind people of the skills they have and of methods to reinforce those skills. It is a good way to connect especially if the family member is isolated out of choice or other factors.

Another option might be to consider a peer mentorship program in which a deployed spouse is connected to another spouse by age, gender, family status, rank, etc. It may be that the deployed spouse does not want to be checked on, but that checks and balances is a good way to remind the individual that they are not alone, that there are resources available, and that someone cares. It can be overwhelming when the commander’s wife calls a young wife, but a personal touch of many on a semi-regular basis creates that caring community the extends beyond the deployment.

Another way to connect is through the mail. Through the use of a handwritten note or card, Everybody likes mail. As part of the note, gentle reminders as to Hearts Apart or squadron functions can be given. Often when the spouse is deployed, the spouse at home is forgotten in unit family activities. When a family is only included when the military member is at home, a message is sent that the family only matters when the military member is present.

When a spouse or when a family is not coping well, it equates to increased severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms, divorce, decreased job satisfaction, and poor mental health in all family members. Resiliency training and positive coping strategies cannot be isolated to the military member, but we as a village need to look for techniques to extend our reach and embed those skills in our military community and families. I welcome your suggestions at any time.

Deployments are part of the military life. The longer a military couple is married, the better they become at navigating the stressors of deployment. Out of necessity, spouses develop skills to carry the family through the forced times apart, yet deployments impact every family long after the deployment is completed. Over 44% of spouses report moderate depressive symptoms during the deployment, but 75% of military spouses think that the first three months after a deployment are more stressful than the actual deployment. The most at risk population are those families who are younger and with less resources are at the highest risk for divorce or family conflict during this time. While the military has a resiliency training requirement for military members, this important skill is often ignored for family members.

Resiliency classes emphasize and promote positive attributes and strategies. One basic skill teaches individuals to identify small things that the individual is grateful for. In the very act of recognizing what is going right, positive emotions are reinforced which helps with adaptation and optimal functioning. The more positive skills that an individual can deploy, the less maladaptive skills an individual will utilize.

Essentially, while the deployments are not going to end, young families or families facing deployment for the first time in a long time, need support. These families would benefit from a resiliency program that emphasizes connections to others, goal setting, ways to eliminate obsessive thinking, positive meaning making, and positive coping strategies. While attendees of formal training report positive changes, only 25% of enlisted spouses attend in-person training. This is the at risk population, thus the time has come to consider other methods of getting the training or support out to our spouses.

Social media in terms of closed support groups can be one avenue. I know that I belong to three such groups of families/spouses or military members who suffered loss. We support one another. Sometimes the activity level or need is low, but holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and stressful times (both good and bad) are a good time to check in and to remind people of the skills they have and of methods to reinforce those skills. It is a good way to connect especially if the family member is isolated out of choice or other factors.

Another option might be to consider a peer mentorship program in which a deployed spouse is connected to another spouse by age, gender, family status, rank, etc. It may be that the deployed spouse does not want to be checked on, but that checks and balances is a good way to remind the individual that they are not alone, that there are resources available, and that someone cares. It can be overwhelming when the commander’s wife calls a young wife, but a personal touch of many on a semi-regular basis creates that caring community the extends beyond the deployment.

Another way to connect is through the mail. Through the use of a handwritten note or card, Everybody likes mail. As part of the note, gentle reminders as to Hearts Apart or squadron functions can be given. Often when the spouse is deployed, the spouse at home is forgotten in unit family activities. When a family is only included when the military member is at home, a message is sent that the family only matters when the military member is present.

When a spouse or when a family is not coping well, it equates to increased severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms, divorce, decreased job satisfaction, and poor mental health in all family members. Resiliency training and positive coping strategies cannot be isolated to the military member, but we as a village need to look for techniques to extend our reach and embed those skills in our military community and families. I welcome your suggestions at any time.

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