As Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom came to an end in 2008, more than 1.7 million armed men and women had participated in different campaigns. However, their return home was not unheard of since a large number of the families had. Various military and civilian records agree that up to 43% of all military personnel serving at any given time have children and dependents (Skomorovsky & Bullock, 2016). Given the damning numbers of the U.S. forces fighting in the Middle East, particularly a high number of deaths, the emotional burden on family members and children must be serious. This expository essay seeks to explore the effects of deployment on family and loved ones of military service members.
Effects of Deployment
The first effect of deployment on family and loved ones of military service members is absence stress and separation anxiety. While spouses are mature adults with more developed coping mechanisms, younger children and teenagers find the absence of their fathers and mothers daunting (Bartone, Vaitkus, Williams, & Walter Reed Army Inst. of Research Washington DC, 1994). Children become reclusive, rude, or violent depending on the stage of development at which their fathers and mothers get deployed. Young children may suffer depression or separation anxiety while adolescents become violent or withdrawn and angry. However, the spouses of active military personnel under deployment also suffer their unique set of challenges depending on certain factors. These include the length of deployment, a region of deployment, and deployment role.
Another effect that deployment causes on the family and loved ones of military service members is a stigma. Although the majority of Americans supported the deployment of its personnel to the Middle East following the 9/11 attack, some felt it was not necessary especially after Saddam and Osama_x0092_s deaths. The family and loved ones of military personnel deployed to these regions suffer sharp stigma from these opponents of the American campaigns in the Middle East denting their self-esteem and socialization abilities (Driscoll, Straus, & Armed Forces Foundation (U.S.), 2010). Spouses start resenting the notion of military deployment while younger children become reclusive failing to understand why their _x0091_hero_x0092_ fathers and mothers get attacked.
American forces suffered massive casualties in the recent campaigns with unofficial figures placing the dead at more than six thousand American soldiers. Additionally, most of those that return either have debilitating trauma, missing limbs, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Knobloch & Theiss, 2013). Therefore, when family members get deployed, their loved ones and family acquire an almost immediate fear of them never returning alive, whole, or normal. Such fear causes sleeping disorders, reduced performance in schools among students and works for adults and acute worry.
Most families, especially those that have a history of military service, remain intact during normal deployment periods. However, certain American military mission requires longer than normal deployments that may even extend to several years. Such lengthy periods away from a spouse or loved one has a profound effect on the relationship. While the United States military tries to connect loved ones using encrypted satellite video calls, nothing can replace physical contact with loved ones and family (SCHUM, 2000). Consequently, such lengthy deployments harm marriages through infidelity and destroy families when children grow up resenting their parents for deserting them.
Some sociologists and psychologists have studied the effects of military deployment especially in the recent decades on the social fabric of the American society. Because most deployments involve male members of the family such as fathers and sons, the family unit_x0092_s dynamics change making mothers and daughters the main providers and caregivers. Such changes have emasculated the once humble American female giving her more social standing (Skomorovsky & Bullock, 2016). Similarly, fathers have had to play the roles of both parents recently with the addition of female military personnel effeminizing the once macho American male. Military deployments bestow upon them new roles depending on the specific family member deployed coming back to family and loved ones. Such roles may be difficult to adjust to, but the changes are distinct even in the general American society.
To a smaller extent, the effects of military deployment on the career choices of family members and other loved ones have become increasingly evident. From an early age, the spouses of deployed service men and women discourage their children from the following suit to avoid replicating the agony of loneliness and worry (Skomorovsky & Bullock, 2016). Additionally, some family members change their careers to try and follow in the footsteps of successful militarized family members. Such changes have been subtle, but are becoming more evident with the increased roles the United States has in the global geopolitical arena.
Therefore, while the United States_x0092_ military performance globally speaks volumes regarding glory, many of the same servicemen and women, as well as their families, suffer in silence. Many family members and loved ones endure months or even years of separation anxiety, the worry of whether their loved ones will return home alive and well, and the stigma associated with service. Additionally, the children of members of the armed forces develop resentment and even hatred for the military for taking away their parents, while others become angry, violent and academically lax. From a social perspective, military service has changed a lot of the traditional social roles of the American society as well as influencing the fundamental career choices.
Bartone, P. T., Vaitkus, M. A., Williams, R. C., & WALTER REED ARMY INST OF RESEARCH WASHINGTON DC. (1994). Psychosocial Stress and Mental Health in a Forward-Deployed Military Community. Ft. Belvoir: Defense Technical Information Center.
Driscoll, P. P., Straus, C., & Armed Forces Foundation (U.S.). (2010). Hidden battles on unseen fronts: Stories of American soldiers with traumatic brain injury and PTSD. Havertown, PA: Casemate.
Knobloch, L. K., & Theiss, J. A. (2013). Relational Turbulence Within Military Couples During Reintegration Following Deployment. Military Deployment and its Consequences for Families, 37-59. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-8712-8_3
SCHUM, W. R. (2000). EFFECTS OF A MILITARY OVERSEAS PEACEKEEPING DEPLOYMENT ON MARITAL QUALITY, SATISFACTION, AND STABILITY.Psychological Reports, 87(7), 815. doi:10.2466/pr0.87.7.815-821
Skomorovsky, A., & Bullock, A. (2016). The Impact of Deployment on Children From Canadian Military Families. Armed Forces & Society, 0095327X1667069. doi:10.1177/0095327×16670691