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If you’re not in the military you may never have heard of deployment stress, but it is a very real situation that military spouses, partners and children deal with regularly. What is deployment stress? It is a very real issue the military member and his or her family face.
Did you know that even when the United States is not at war military families are still faced with frequent moves, absence of a parent or loved one and deployment where contact is infrequent and sporadic? When a loved one is deployed for a mission or during war, this is an even higher threshold of stress for the entire family.
When it comes to deployment, there are multiple challenges the families face before, during and after.
Before: When the news of an impending deployment comes down, strong emotions surface. Fear and anger are two. As the deployment times grows nearer there is a period of withdrawal and detachment – both all parties – as they cope with the fact that they will either be the ones left behind or the one leaving. Detachment may help you prepare emotionally for the person being gone.
During: Family members may experience
- Worry and panic
- Added burdens of family duties
- Fear for the deployed person
- Financial difficulties
- Being faced with problems they never had before (broken plumbing, etc.)
- Struggling to understand the situation your loved one is facing
Children may react in different ways – anger, fear, acting out, behavioral or mental health problems. These reactions are not to be denied nor overlooked.
After: The deployed family member comes home and it’s a time of celebration, right? At first, yes during the honeymoon phase. As the one left behind, you may have learned to be more responsible and independent and that may rankle your partner. The deployed person may miss the adrenaline rush of being deployed. Depending on the length of the deployment and the age of the children when the military person left, the child may not remember who the deployed parent is. The child has become independent and may have taken on a larger role in helping out in the home that he or she may resent your return. Infidelity occurs.
The deployed service member could be deeply impacted by what he or she witnessed, or had to do, during deployment. Post traumatic stress disorder plagues more service members than is talked about.
If the common reactions and the adjustment period don’t get better or even get worse, it’s time to reach out to a mental health professional with whom you can talk. Contacting a professional, via a telemedicine appointment, is a way to discuss the issues and potentially resolve the conflicts.
Mental health issues impact the deployed service member, his or her spouse/partner and the children in the household. There are resources available to help all parties resolve the issues and work toward a happier, healthier family.
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