The Impact of Reintegration on Families of Reserve and National Guard Combat Veterans Returning From War: Findings and Clinical Implications

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Virginia Tech


A review of literature, coupled with years of personal clinical experience treating combat veterans, particularly those serving in National Guard and Reserves, indicates a dearth of research on the impact repeated combat deployments have on veterans in their family relationships. Reintegration problems are too often manifested as work/life readjustment stress, family role adjustment issues, relational dysfunction, child neglect and abuse, and domestic violence. These pressing problems highlight the need for greater focus by behavioral health, healthcare, federal agencies and other non-governmental organizations to create reintegration protocols and programs that enable combat veterans to more successfully reintegrate within their marital and family relationships. This qualitative study utilized a single case-study approach to explore spousal perceptions of marital and family relationship disturbances resulting from repeated combat deployment and reintegration of long-term active-duty service members. Although based on the responses from one military spouse, four themes emerged from this study that are likely to be common for other spouses and families who live through repeated deployment cycles: choice, progression, adaptability, and acceptance. Based on these thematic findings, there must be a greater focus on feedback, insights, and constructive suggestions directly from service members, their spouses and children as related to coping more successfully with repeated deployments and reintegration cycles. The results of this research are expected to be useful for military officials, governmental agencies, counselors, educators, and other mental health service providers who engage with this at-risk population of service member and their families about more effective educational and treatment options that can improve comprehensive services.



military reintegration, deployment cycle, combat stress