Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mothers' Military Deployment Affects Health Of Women And Teens

Date:
April 2, 2009
Source:
George Mason University
Summary:
Due to regional conflicts across the globe, such as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism, women are being deployed overseas in greater numbers than ever before. Although separation of a service member from their family is always a hardship, a recent study found that a woman's military deployment affects her health as well as that of her adolescent children.

Due to regional conflicts across the globe, such as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism, women are being deployed overseas in greater numbers than ever before. Women constitute approximately 16 percent of the 3.5 million members of the U.S. armed forces and 10 percent of present forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although separation of a service member from their family is always a hardship, for mothers of adolescent children, deployment comes at even more of a personal sacrifice. A recent study completed by George Mason University researcher Mona Ternus found that a woman's military deployment affects her health as well as that of her adolescent children.

"War induced separation impacts family life with unique stressors related to the dangerous aspects of deployment," says Ternus, associate professor and director of academic outreach and distance education in Mason's College of Health and Human Services and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. "These military women believe in what they do. They believe in the mission. And what they believe in terms of their commitment and their work is very high. This is very much a personal part of their lives and a personal part of their own self-development that becomes a part of them."

Ternus analyzed responses from 77 women who recently completed a military deployment and who were also mothers of adolescent children aged 10 to 18 years. Participants completed Web-based questionnaires based on their experiences at varying times after return. The majority of respondents were in the Air Force and Army, and more than 60 percent of the women had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Deployment served as a catalyst for health and behavior change of both mothers and their adolescent children—and the longer the deployment, the greater the effect. Ternus found strong correlations between the number of symptoms women experienced during deployment—such as cough, headaches, joint pain, back pain, muscle aches, numbness/tingling, skin rashes, diarrhea, chest pain and difficulty breathing—and the number of days deployed.

Making arrangements for child care was one of the most common stressors mentioned by participants. Ternus was surprised to find that, as a result of single parent households or dual-military families in which both parents deployed at the same time, 36 percent of the respondents reported having no primary parent in the home during the time of deployment.

In addition, Ternus found that a longer deployment leads to increased risk behaviors among adolescent children such as non-accidental physical injury, physical fights, incidents involving weapons, cigarette smoking/chewing tobacco, alcohol, illegal drug use, self mutilation, drop in school grades and attempted suicide. While 75 percent of the adolescents exhibited no risk factors prior to deployment according to parental responses, just as many of the children engaged in risk behaviors during and after deployment.

"There are more than 3 million immediate family members of active-duty and reserve personnel, of whom approximately 400,000 are adolescents," says Ternus. "Adolescence is a turbulent period with an increased number of risk behaviors. It follows that separation from the military mother during these potentially dangerous deployments has an impact on the adolescent."

Despite the hardships and personal sacrifice, participants expressed deep satisfaction with, and commitment to, their military work and careers. Ternus, who has been separated from her teenage daughter several times while deployed, empathizes with the women in the study.

"A theme emerged in which the military women expressed a great deal of guilt related to their absence from the home. Mothers commented on missing family events, the effect on caregivers who were supporting the family and the need to be both at work and home," says Ternus. "Many additional factors exacerbate the stresses on the family such as fear of parental death or injury. I am hopeful that my research will help to discover new ways that we can build family relationships even while people fulfill their military obligation, service and commitment to their country."

The full study is entitled, "Military Women's Perceptions of the Effect of Deployment on their Role as Mothers and on Adolescents' Health."

Ternus was awarded the Federal Nursing Services Award for this study by the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States.

This research was funded by the University of New Mexico and Ternus is continuing her program of research at George Mason University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by George Mason University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

George Mason University. "Mothers' Military Deployment Affects Health Of Women And Teens." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090402104728.htm>.
George Mason University. (2009, April 2). Mothers' Military Deployment Affects Health Of Women And Teens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090402104728.htm
George Mason University. "Mothers' Military Deployment Affects Health Of Women And Teens." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090402104728.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins