Counseling to Military Active Duty and their Families

Happy 4th of July! This post is a shout out to all the incredible military families working to support our country and our soldiers. While the 4th of July is a time to celebrate our country, it can also be a time to recognize the sacrifices made by our service men and women every day.

Military families are uniquely affected by work and life stressors. Deployment, pre-deployment training and preparation, as well as reintegration can affect not only the service member, but their spouse and family. Additionally, service men and women are particularly affected by Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and interpersonal violence.

Service Members

Clearly serving in a combat zone and witnessing and/or participating in violence is a traumatic experience. Service members are trained to separate from the emotion and perform despite the horrific things they are experiencing. But these experiences stick around until they are fully processed making Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms highly likely, particularly once they return home.

PTSD is a difficult roller coaster to maneuver and causes significant stress to both the service men and women, as well as their family members. In fact, according to the The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, male combat veterans with PTSD are two to three times more  likely to abuse their female partners than veterans not suffering from PTSD. Additionally, The US Department of Veteran Affairs reports anywhere from 30 to 70% of female veterans have experienced intimate partner violence at some point in their lives.

Transition stress is another issue affecting veterans that’s often overlooked. According to a 2018 study published by Clinical Psychology Review, many veterans struggle with the transition back to civilian life. The excitement and purpose of serving in uniform, the sense of belonging, and the camaraderie of their squad can cause transitioning veterans to feel a loss of identity as they shift back into civilian life. Difficulty finding new employment and re-establishing relationships with family and friends after deployment can also present unique challenges.

Left untreated, these issues can lead to anxiety, depression and other disorders.

Spouses

Being married to a service member uniquely affects a spouse. With their spouse’s expected long-term absence comes the stress and responsibility of maintaining a home and family alone. Uprooting from one home to another is stressful and exhausting, and presents the military spouse with numerous challenges to overcome as they support their deployed spouse, a home and family.

With the increased risk of intimate partner violence, spouses are in a particularly tricky situation. Reporting can be difficult because it can affect the family’s very livelihood. Military sanctions for criminal offenses often include restrictions to advancement. So, in order for a military spouse to get help, he or she has to risk her partner not being able to advance or possibly being kicked out of the military altogether. If this is the sole or main source of income, this can be devastating to the entire family.

Military spouses need specialized help to get the support they need within the unique circumstances of military life.

Family Members

Every child reacts differently to stressors in a family. Military families experience stress through multiple transitions, with a parent’s deployment, with the likelihood of a parent having PTSD, and also with the heightened likelihood of domestic violence in the home. However a child reacts, they will likely struggle with the change in their family dynamic.

Children are emotionally vulnerable to the effects of deployment. Studies have shown that young children with a deployed parent are more likely to exhibit behavioral problems, as well as experience depression and anxiety. Children that witness interpersonal violence often struggle with behavioral issues themselves and are significantly more likely to either perpetrate or be the victim of domestic violence when they grow up.

There is hope and help

There are many difficulties military families must face in selfless service to our nation’s security. But there is hope and help. Military families come with so much strength and resiliency. With the right help, they can work through the problems and feel stronger than ever before.

Our counselors are experienced in supporting military families as they cope with the unique challenges presented by the military lifestyle. Our organization is proud to provide effective, comprehensive mental health services tailored to military active duty and their families. So if you or someone you know is in need of help as a result of their service, we can help. Get started today with a free 15-minute telephone consultation.

 

Sources: 

https://www.domesticshelters.org/articles/statistics/the-facts-about-abuse-in-military-families

http://jaapl.org/content/jaapl/41/1/79.full.pdf

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/types/violence/domestic-violence.asp

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