Continually Deployed Service-Members Effect on Family Structure
The choice of a military profession comes with numerous challenges. Those who are tasked with protecting the boundaries of their country or ensuring peace in the world must deal with physical overload, psychological stress, lack of everyday commodities, and very often face the need to part with their loved ones for extended periods of time. The most frequent causes of military deployment include the transfer from one place of service to another, peacemaking missions, and wars.
The military’s main goal is defending the nation and providing home security to their land. That is, they aim to create an exclusive safe environment where there is freedom to relax, carry out and enjoy everyday activities without the fear of death, disability, loss of the kin, or property. Since the worldwide politics is dominated by a variety of diplomatic decisions, safety, security, and economic developments based on current situations, the military services assist in strengthening and shaping the primary vulnerable areas in order to take care of the earth matters accordingly (Lester et al. 312). On the same note, the army is responsible for the execution of essential geopolitical tasks in global diplomacy and peacemaking, safety and security, as well as ensuring ecological, business, and economic stability. In brief, all the aforementioned implies that the military force is in control of maintaining the internal calm of the nation. The paper is aimed at discussing the effect the deployed service-members may have on the family structure and the potential for its successful reintegration.
One of the recent long-term wars, which required the lasting and largest deployment of US soldiers, was the Vietnam War that took place between 1955 and 1975. Primarily, from the part of the US and the Soviet Union, which supported the opposing sides, it was meant to “regulate internal military quagmires between South and North Vietnam”. However, with time the policy of the USA transformed from being mere advisors into undertaking covert operations such as a bombing. During this time, estimated 600,000 American soldiers left their homes to participate in the warfare and 58,220 of them never returned to their families. Another prolonged war was in Beirut and lasted from 1982 to 1984 (Lester et al. 317). The United States also deployed a large troop to Lebanon in order to deal with the Israeli invasion of 1975-1990. The military force was given the mandate to restore order and give support to the weak Lebanese government. The other long-lasting armed conflicts that the US took active part in were in Middle East, mostly in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Until recently, the problems connected with the lasting deployment of a service member of the family were not given the due attention. After the last military conflicts and advancements in socio-psychological approaches to their interpretation, the situation changed dramatically. Today, the conditions of such families are studied and the latter may get substantial advice and support in dealing with them.
When a service member is away for an extended period, certain family bonding relationship is often missed. First, both spouses may not have enough time to communicate with each other as they share the daily up and downs of life or the one at war is unable to keep in touch. Besides, one may experience an exciting period in his or her life, but the fact that the partner is away may make the enjoyment fade. Similarly, while undergoing a given challenge in life, a spouse may find it quite difficult to cope with life challenges during the absence of their partner (Laser and Paul 31). Even when they may be materially well-off, such spouses lack emotional security.
Children of the deployed service-members may lack emotional security even more. For instance, since toddlers reasonably need both parents in order to feel loved, form attachments, and have a correct behavioral mindset, the absence of one of them may determine their future social and emotional lives. With no doubt, this implies that children, whose parent is deployed, will suffer emotionally and may not get all the support they need to grow and develop properly.
Children tend to encounter certain burdens when they do not contact with one of their parents. First, they may get inadequate amount of attention and guidance from a single parent. In the majority of cases, children require more than just economic security in order for them to progress. That is, they need parents who can assist them with their homework, listen to what their day was like, be “there” for the key events in their life, or help with important advice. Similarly, children who do not have one of their parents around might not have the enrichment activities outside school environment. A single parent alone, especially if there are two or more kids in the family, cannot have the time to execute all the duties like both parents working together could. Moreover, children are likely to feel emotionally insecure because they have only one of their parents to seek comfort when they are scared, sick, or just tired, as well as share the joy of good experiences. As such, the balance between autonomy and independence and being abandoned, not feeling loved, lacking comfort and safety is fragile and few children can handle it on their own (Laser and Paul 34).
Further, having a single parent family when one is deployed tends to create certain disconnect within the family structure. Thus, a child who grows without a mother is likely to miss female affectionate treatment which is significant for their psychological development in later life. Lack of a mother is more likely to cause a relationship failure when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex as Girls do not get the essential female education and boys do not copy their father’s behavior regarding mother. Similarly, a child who grows without a father may miss the male influences which can make it difficult for them to perform certain roles in the future. Girls may have barriers to communicating with their male peers and boys feel the lack of masculine qualities and skills.
Upon the return of a service-member after a long period of absence, families are predisposed to undergoing certain struggles and changes in their lives. Primarily, it is often a turbulent time for such families as they have to reform into one whole functioning system after such a long time. According to numerous studies carried out in this field, negative family functioning and tensed relationship between its members is likely to reach its peak in around 4 to 9 months after a service-member returns (Sayers 110). For instance, a service-member may find it completely difficult to fit in a home environment which could have transformed a great deal since her or his departure. Lack of suitable, or rather habitual communication and expectations during this restructuring time is often a source of stress and conflict for reintegrating families.
Additionally, particular mixed feelings tend to occur within the family structure. The service-members may feel they no longer fit into their families simply because of the changes that have taken place in their absence such as the maturation of children and their spouse’s ability to go without them. In case of war veterans, they may also experience difficulties related to interpersonal interactions such as poor anger management, low frustration tolerance, self-regulation, social withdrawal, and difficulties in coping with everyday functions among others. Resultantly, such stressful conditions could lead to strong symptoms of anxiety, depression, and increased alcohol use. As for the spouses of the service-members, they may face certain inconveniences as well. For instance, they may find it difficult to rebalance child and their own responsibilities, new habits, rules, and worrying regarding the next deployment (Sayers 116). Similarly, they may have a difficulty fitting the deployed spouse back into the normal life, possibly a new occupation, home routine, and often getting to discover them once again. Moreover, they may fail to deal with the deployed spouse mood changes, find common topics for discussions decide on whom to seek advice from. As for children, they may be worried about how their parents are getting along, have no habit of approaching them in case they need permission, advice, or support. All of the aforementioned factors have a potential of leading to a divorce on the basis of misunderstandings and the loss of shared goals in life.
Irrespective of these challenges, certain programs have been created mostly within the military bases in order to ease the reintegration of family life structures. These support programs and services are often targeted at taking preventative measures, especially during a particular period. For this reason, an effective and strong collaboration between civilian and military community is encouraged continuously in order to build, strengthen, or maintain the resiliency of military families. These measures reinforce during the potentially difficult time of re-integration.
In conclusion, the process of deployment and re-integration tends to be a significant time for the majority of families. Since it is accompanied with a variety of transitions in life as a family structure is disintegrated for a long time and then reunited once again, it requires certain mutual efforts from both soldiers and their families to reach a positive outcome. Previously, it was not fully considered to be an essential problem, specifically until the recent wars that took place in the Middle East. Presently, families and communities are provided with the required support and resources to cope up with the issues caused by deployment and re-integration periods.