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Financial Stress and Behavioral Health in Military Servicemembers: Risk, Resilience, Mechanisms and Targets for Intervention Stress, Resilience, and Well Being

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Conference Proceedings

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Uniformed Services University School of Medicine Bethesda United States

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The Services and the Department of Defense DOD have extensive programs designed to ameliorate servicemembers financial stress. However the key dynamics surrounding financial stress as a stressor by itself or in combination with other factors are not well understood. Financial stress impacts mental and behavioral health as well as servicemember and family function . Financial stress is usually embedded in a web of life stressors and adversities e.g. change in station, loss of job of a spouse, deployment, school needs for children, and illness of a relative that vary with the servicemembers age, family structure, career phase and life context and transitions. The challenges faced by servicemembers as a result of financial stress are modified by pre-existing risk and protective factors, present context and expectations of the future. This dynamic interplay can contribute to altered health, mental health, and individual and family functioning including risk for suicide. Understanding the sources and types of financial stress and the web of interactions in which financial stress is embedded in the military member and familys life course, can inform scientific knowledge and planning for actionable programs for mitigating negative effects of financial stress on health and performance. Financial stress can be conceptualized in multiple ways the actual dollar amount of financial stress, the servicemembers perception of financial stress and also the servicemembers experience of comparative financial stress e.g. compared to others can each influence health and behavior. Financial stress can also be conceptualized as financial hardship absence of enough or as time varying availability cash flow problems. Indebtedness is another type of financial stress and common in younger servicemembers in particular.

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