If a family includes a parent who has war as their job, the stresses of war spread to all of the family members. More than half of U.S. military personnel who are deployed to war zones are married, and nearly half have children. That has been over a million families since 2001 that have had to live with the strains – some would say torment – of living with war zone deployments.
The stress on families has been enormous, and predictable. A criminal lawyer in Wellington has seen the ruptures in relationships, and recognize the familiar causes. The New York Times published a front-page story on the stresses of military deployment today.
Studies are beginning to catch up with the ripple effects of multiple combat deployments that military families have been living with and that they have known about for years. A January study published in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that wives of deployed soldiers sought mental health services more often than other Army wives.
The spouses of deployed personnel were also more likely to report mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and sleep disorder, the longer the deployments lasted.
Pediatrics, the medical journal, reported in 2009 that children in military families were more likely to report anxiety than children in civilian families. The longer a parent had been deployed in the previous three years, the researchers found, the more likely the children were to have had difficulties in school and at home.