Researcher finds deployments harshest on mothers, their kids
Although the separation of a military service member from family is always a hardship, a mother’s deployment can come at even more of a personal sacrifice with a recent study by George Mason University researcher Mona Ternus. Women are being deployed overseas in greater numbers than ever before, making up about 16 percent of the 3.5 million members of the U.S. armed forces overall and 10 percent of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“War-induced separation impacts family life with unique stressors related to the dangerous aspects of deployment,” says Ms. Ternus, associate professor and director of academic outreach and distance education in George Mason’s College of Health and Human Services and a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve. “Additionally, factors such as new living arrangements for the children and fear of parental death or injury exacerbate these stresses.”
Ms. Ternus found that a woman’s military deployment affects her health as well as that of her adolescent children by analyzing responses from 77 women who recently completed military deployment and who were mothers of children ages 10 to 18.
Participants completed Web-based questionnaires based on their experiences at varying times after their return. The majority were in the Air Force and Army, and more than 60 percent of the women had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.