The authors maintain that the military has factors that are matched by very few civilian jobs. These features include:
1. Risk of injury or death to the service member;
2. Periodic (often prolonged) separation from other immediate family members;
3. Geographic mobility;
4. Residence in foreign countries, and
5. Normative role pressures placed upon family members because they are considered (associate) members of the employee's organization.
Obviously, in this paper, we are interested in prolonged separation and its effects upon the military family. According the chapter's authors, Special Forces units, military police and infantry are gone a lot from home, whereas medics, doctors and other administrative specialists are not. As they state, "We were unable to find comparable civilian statistics, but we are quite sure that civilian families…do not usually experience separations approaching the number of days that soldiers are away from home." According to their research, the average number of weeks that enlisted soldiers, officers and Special Forces soldiers were absent from their home stations during fiscal year 1998 was 2.8, 5.3, and 18 weeks respectively. It is certain that during the War on Terror, these numbers are much larger. In addition, the unpredictability of the frequency and duration of the military deployments can not usually be predicted. Spouses miss the companionship, support and division of labor when the soldier is away from home. Spouses worry about the welfare of the soldier, are fearful of infidelity. Long overseas deployments may involve relocating the family close to family to gain needed support and reduce expenses. Independent spouses do better. Spouses may change, which will increase the amount of time for the couple to adjust upon the soldiers return (Bell and Schumm 85).
In the "The Strengths and Vulnerabilities of Adolescents in Military Families," the Dorothy J. Jeffreys and Jeffrey D. Leitzel, they come to a conclusion that contradicts many of the current popular perceptions of stressed children in military families. Their chapter presents the results from a 1996-1997 survey of over 6,000 military adolescents which address issues of physical and mental health, antisocial behavior, drug and alcohold use, educational experiences, peer relations, family satisfaction, and military related perceptions and experiences of these adolescents. According to the authors, their results are generally consistent with comparable findings from civilian young people in similar situations (Jeffreys and Leitzel 225).
According to Rentz, and Marshall, et al., little is known about deployment-related stress and its impact upon the occurrence of child maltreatment in military families. This 2000-2003 analysis of Texas child maltreatment data about child maltreatment in military and nonmilitary families over time and the impact of recent deployment increases. The rate of occurrence of maltreatment in military families was twice as high in the period after October 2002. The rate of occurrence of substantiated abuse in military families was twice as high in the period after October 2002 (the 1-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks) compared with the period prior to that date (Rentz, Marshall, & et al., 1-2).
According to an article in Psychiatric News by Aaron Levin, the children of U.S. Army soldiers face a 42% increase in the incident of child abuse when military spouses were of to war between September 2001 and December 2004. The study linked this Army human-resource data with information from the Army Central Registry for confirmed incidents of child or spousal abuse as reported by Army medical, social service, education and law-enforcement personnel. Nationwide, there were 1.1 million children under 18 in the U.S. military families. Over the 40 months covered by the study, 1,858 parents in 1,771 families of enlisted soldiers abused or neglected or abused their children. This gave a total of 3,334 incidents that involved 2,968 children. Of these, 942 occurred during deployments. The data caused an increase in resources dedicated to combating the problems with better outreach, increased resources and also more effective services would help families left during a spouse's tour of duty according to Dr. Joyce Raezer. "The Army is doing more now to help than in 2002, but it's still not enough," said Raezer. "Nobody's doing enough. We need ongoing research and ongoing support (Levin, 2007)."
Jacey Eckhart in an article on the website of Military.com quotes a North Carolina study that says that military kids in North Carolina are twice as likely to die of severe abuse that their civilian counterparts. This research was driven by funding by the North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission and the North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute. The two counties in which were Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, Camp LeJeune and New River Air Station had the highest rates of child abuse murders in the state. This compares with 26 other counties that had no child abuse murders for children age ten and under. The children with the most risk are between one and two years-old. The killers are usually male (Eckhart, 2005).
The article by Susan Lang in the Cornell University Science News, she speaks about the Family Life Development Center (FLDC) at Cornell University. It was founded to help military members to avoid child abuse and family violence. The mission of the center is to provide research-based materials, tools, trainings and other kinds of support to assist the Army and Marines proactively to prevent family violence. The center operates through a cooperative agreement with the Extension Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense (Lang, 1997).
In an article by social worker Donna Martin, she speaks about the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the United States Military and the Fort Bliss and Fort Hood FAP and its New Parent Support Program. This program provides in-home visitation, therapeutic support, as well as resource assistance to Army families with new babies and continuing support for families with children through five years of age. This program attempts to reduce child abuse and neglect and spouse abuse via individual parenting education, roll modeling, as well as access services. Since the FAP began at Fort Hood, awareness classes to soldiers increased from 40% of units being reached to 100% or above of all units reached during fiscal year 2002. During that year, the Fort Hood Extension Agents briefed 85% of individuals assigned to the units they are responsible for (Martin).
In the article by Rick Nauert on Psychcentral.com, he points out that there was a 30% increase in the rate of substantiated maltreatment cases in Texas in the period after October 2002. At Texas military posts, "Improved reporting and detection of child maltreatment in military families, rather than an increase in maltreatment, could also have caused the jump in maltreatment cases that we observed. However, there was no comparable jump in maltreatment in the civilian families over this time, which suggests that increased rate of deployment is the probable cause (Nauert)."
The author has intended that the methodology in this paper present a multi-pronged approach to study child abuse in the military family during deployments, even though this would seemingly be commonsensical . First of all, there is a need to use the latest available statistical data to analyze the incidence of child abuse in the present War on Terror. Secondly, there is a need to unite this with information provided with studies of military deployments since the First Gulf War. Thirdly, there is a need to bring into the mix information from social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and other professionals engaged directly in the field.
Certainly, while much has been accomplished in understanding and dealing with the increase in child abuse in military families, much more has to be done. From the literature review, it appears that the approach that works the best with the families in question is the one on one approach. While the most expensive and the most labor intensive, it is the most effective and in the end increases the combat efficiency of the units. The better that the soldiers and families feel about their situations at the beginnings of a deployment, the better that they will feel during and after the deployment and the better that they will be able to deal with deployments in the future.
"Army Readiness Group Family Readiness Group." Army Readiness Group Family
Readiness Group. Army Readiness Group, 2010. 3 Jul 2010. .
Bell, D. Bruce & Schumm, Walter R. "Balancing Work and Family Demands in the Military: What Happens When Your Employer Tells You to Go to War?"
in ed. Halpern, Diane F. And Murphy, Susan Elaine. From Work-Family Balance to Work Family Interaction: Changing the Metaphor. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2005.
Bell, D. Bruce & Schumm, Walter R. "Providing Family Support During Military
Deployments," in ed. Ashworth, Martin, Leora Rosen, and Linette Sparacino. The military family: a practice guide for human service providers. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2000.
Eckhart, Jacey. (2005). Spouse abuse-military.com. Retrieved from http://www.military.com/spouse/fs/0,,fs_Eckhart_080505,00.html