The reentry of military service members back into family life after deployment can be extremely challenging for couples. Military personnel may have trouble acclimating to changes that occurred while they were away, spouses who managed autonomously during deployment may find it difficult to share decision-making power, and both partners may struggle to renew closeness.
The demands of reintegration into life at home also take a substantial toll on people’s personal and relational well-being. Both military personnel and their at-home partners are at risk for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and relationship dysfunction during the period following homecoming.
In a new study, The Family Institute’s Director of Research and Kovler Scholar, Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, PhD, is working to understand what helps military couples make a smooth transition from deployment to reintegration. Funded by a grant awarded by the Department of Defense U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under the Military Operational Medicine Research Program to Dr. Knobloch-Fedders and her collaborators, Dr. Leanne Knobloch from the University of Illinois and Dr. Benjamin Karney from UCLA, the study follows military couples from their first days of reunion. The goal of this study is to evaluate how people’s mental health symptoms and romantic relationship characteristics predict their reintegration difficulties following deployment.
“There is an urgent need for research to inform prevention and intervention services for couples during the transition from deployment to reintegration,” Dr. Knobloch-Fedders said. “Experts believe incorporating a service member back into domestic life can be more demanding for military families than deployment itself.”
Increasingly, news stories are highlighting the physical and psychological toll that deployment takes on military service personnel and their families. With the release of the movie “American Sniper,” we are reminded of the many risks our service members face for our safety. Dr. Knobloch-Fedders and her research team are working to help our military service members and their families re-acclimate to life after deployment.
The Family Institute at Northwestern University offers affordable counseling for couples, individuals and families at our four Chicagoland locations. Please visit our website to learn more about what we do.