A lot has been written on the importance of promoting readiness in the military population, but this concept of “readiness” can be applied to military families as well. It is important that military family members are prepared to meet the challenges that accompany military life, which in turn, helps to ensure that their Service members can be “mission ready.”
In March of 2018, “What We Know about Military Family Readiness: Evidence from 2007-2017” was published, which summarized the literature on military family readiness from the past 10 years. In this literature review, family readiness was defined as “the state of being prepared to effectively navigate the challenges of daily living experienced in the unique context of military service” (p.8). Ready (or resilient) families were thus defined as those that have:
Qualitative analyses indicated 16 different areas of military family readiness:
1) Adult physical health includes factors related to the physical health of both Service members and spouses, such as general physical health, illness, injury, and pain.
2) Adult mental health includes factors related to the mental health of Service members and spouses, such as depression, anxiety, anger, and stress.
3) Adult social support encompasses the availability and accessibility of both formal and informal social resources and support.
4) Children’s functioning covers all aspects of military children’s lives, including physical health, mental health, adaptability, and reactions to challenges.
5) Spouse functioning includes things related to spouses’ personal development and adaptation to military experiences (e.g., overall coping, sense of identity, day-to-day well-being).
6) Marital quality encompasses various marital relationship characteristics, such as satisfaction, commitment, and communication.
7) Severe family & marital distress includes issues such as divorce, infidelity, abuse, and maltreatment.
8) Service members’ deployment-related experiences focuses on the experiences and functioning of Service members during their deployments that are explicitly related to family readiness (e.g., the impact of combat exposure on family functioning).
9) Service members’ reintegration experiences focuses on the experiences and functioning of Service members after deployment.
10) Spouses’ experiences during deployment focuses on the experiences and functioning of military spouses during their Service members’ deployments, such as their physical and/or mental health, social support, parenting, and daily routines.
11) Spouses’ reintegration experiences focuses on spouses’ well-being and functioning after their Service members return from deployment.
12) Children’s experiences during parental deployment & reintegration centers on the things that children face both during a parent’s deployment and after their return (e.g., physical/ mental health, behavioral issues, coping, academic issues).
13) Parenting & family functioning encompasses interpersonal dynamics and relationships between individuals in families.
14) Finances & spouse employment includes issues related to family finances and to spouse employment, such as barriers to spouse employment.
15) Military life experiences covers the unique situations military families face (e.g., frequent relocation) and the impact of these experiences on family members.
16) Accessibility of military services includes the availability and accessibility of programs and services available to military-connected families.
Some of the key takeaways from this report are:
This is just a small snapshot of the information included in this report. I encourage you to take a look for yourselves!
The opinions in CDP Staff Perspective blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science or the Department of Defense.
LMarjorie Weinstock, Ph.D., is a Senior Military Behavioral Health Psychologist at the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USU) in Bethesda, Maryland.
Hawkins, S. A., Condon, A., Hawkins, J. N., Liu, K., Ramirez, Y. M. Nihill, M. M., & Tolins, J. (2018). What we know about military families: Evidence from 2007-2017. Research Facilitation Laboratory, Army Analytics Group, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army.