It doesn’t matter what branch of the military, every family who has gone through a deployment of a spouse, son, daughter, or loved one, deals with a unique kind of stress and anxiety. Being away from home and your family can have a tremendous impact on mental health.
Families with a loved one who has been deployed deal with some top issues that were brought up in a study from 2018 by Blue Star Families (https://bluestarfam.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2018MFLS-ComprehensiveReport-DIGITAL-FINAL.pdf)
One of the top stressors for military families during a deployment is financial. In this day and age, it is crucial to have two household incomes in order to support a family. However, there are serious roadblocks because the partner at home is virtually a single parent for a time. Meaning, they are absorbing the duties of household chores, childcare, transportation to appointments, etc. For any single parent this is difficult and in deployment situations, this can rock a typical routine that has been built.
Another stressor that has come up is that children of families with one parent being deployed are displaying more behavioral challenges. This can compound the stress of the parent at home as well. Frequent moves, relocations, and the uncertainty of a parent’s return also impact children and can cause higher levels of anxiety without a great understanding as to why they feel this way. This leads to some of those behavioral difficulties that arise as well. The relocation can also impact social relationships and development among children.
Many things can and should be done on a government level in order to better support families with a deployed loved one. Minimizing barriers like spousal employment and child care, as well as education, should be addressed to create the most stable experience. Connect with your local governments to identify ways you can support military families and get these needs and issues recognized and supported.
There are also things you can do to support families who have a deployed spouse that can make a big impact on their lives in a very positive way.
3 Ways to Support Military Families During Deployment
- Hang out: Families in the military can often feel more isolated. When appropriate, invite them to engage in regular activities such as having dinner, playing a game, or just talking. This can make a bigger impact than you may realize. Becoming closer friends with these families allows them to have a shoulder to lean on when things become stressful and emotionally tough.
- Provide a Helping Hand: Offer a play date for kids, run errands, assist with home repairs, offer to babysit, cook dinner, etc. Remember that a two person household runs much differently than when someone is doing it alone. Any and all assistance, big or small, can make a difference in the quality of everyone’s life.
- Volunteer: There are organizations all over the country that offer assistance for military families. It’s most often volunteers that help keep these organizations running. It may include an offer of a monetary donation, time, or a specific skill. You can find your personal states volunteer organizations by visiting serve.org.
Remember that military families often do not stop serving once they return from deployment. There are supports needed to help these families recover and get back into a normal routine. For some this can be more difficult, so be sure use these simple ways of support not just during deployments, but also in returns.
For all those who have served, continue to serve, and those families who are impacted, we thank you for your service.