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The deployment of US military personnel to recent conflicts has been a significant stressor for their families; yet, we know relatively little about the long-term family effects of these deployments. Using data from prior military service eras, we review our current understanding of the long-term functioning and needs of military families. These data suggest that overseas deployment, exposure to combat, experiencing or participating in violence during war deployment, service member injury or disability, and combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) all have profound impacts on the functioning of military families. We offer several recommendations to address these impacts such as the provision of family-centered, trauma-informed resources to families of veterans with PTSD and veterans who experienced high levels of combat and war violence. Recent efforts to address the needs of caregivers of veterans should be evaluated and expanded, as necessary. We should also help military families plan for predictable life events likely to challenge their resilience and coping capacities. Future research should focus on the following: factors that mediate the relationship between PTSD, war atrocities, caregiver burden, and family dysfunction; effective family-centered interventions that can be scaled-up to meet the needs of a dispersed population; and system-level innovations necessary to ensure adequate access to these interventions.
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- Long-Term Trajectories and Service Needs for Military Families
Patrick E. Link
Lawrence A. Palinkas
- Springer US