Parental deployment and well-being in children: Results from a new study of military families.


This study examined whether several aspects of the timing and duration of parental deployment are detrimental to child developmental, emotional, and behavioral health in a random, national probability sample of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps families with a child between the ages of birth and 10 years. The study included a telephone interview of 680 families followed by a web-based survey. Results showed that children were exposed to deployment between 1/6 and 1/5 of their lives across all ages studied. We found no association between deployment and problematic social and emotional development in children between the ages of 0 and 5 years. Experiencing a recent long deployment was associated with higher levels of generalized anxiety in children aged 3 to 5 years, and total percentage of life exposed to deployment was associated with elevated social anxiety in the same age group. For older children (6-10 years), having a parent deployed at birth was associated with more total and peer problems, and recent long deployment with more emotional problems. The effects found in this study were modest in size; thus, military children are doing well on average, but for the subset who suffer adverse effects from parental deployment, we suggest several potential services.