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The Deployment Life Study: Longitudinal Analysis of Military Families Across the Deployment Cycle

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Technical Report

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RAND Arroyo Center Santa Monica United States

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Armed conflict between nations and groups usually requires those who fight to leave behind their families and loved ones. From the Greeks mounting their siege of Troy to the Greatest Generation preparing to enter World War II, the three phases of the deployment cyclepreparation, separation, and reintegrationhave been a regular part of military life throughout the ages. Although many service members anticipate deployments, eager for the opportunity to defend their country and utilize their training, few look forward to time spent separated from spouses and children. Indeed, the separations required by deployments have long been described as one of the most stressful aspects of being a military family.How are military families affected by the challenges of deployment To what extent are service members and their loved ones able to maintain their individual health and interpersonal relationships in the face of lengthy separations To what extent does the well-being of service members and their families change across the phases of the deployment cycle The Deployment Life Study was designed to address these questions. The broad goal of the study was to gather data to evaluate the effects of deployment on service members, spouses, and their children. In particular, this study sought to identify which families are best able to withstand the strains of deployment and the kinds of coping strategies that characterize these families, and which families are most vulnerable to the negative consequences of deployment so that those families might be targeted for extra support.

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