National Guard/Reserve

Post–Deployment Experience of National Guard and Reserve Spouses


The ravages of war often stay with soldiers as they return from Iraq or Afghanistan. Guard and Reserve soldiers return from battle directly into their civilian communities. Now their spouses are on the frontline. Researchers to date have largely ignored these spouses. New research focuses on the post-deployment experience of this neglected population. Support for military families is a timely topic and deserves nationwide attention.

When deployed Guard and Reserve soldiers return from combat they go directly back into civilian communities. Their homes and families are off military bases – often great distances from existing post-combat support systems. Their spouses are thrust into caring for and coping with someone who may have been profoundly affected by combat. Recent studies indicate that Guard and Reserve soldiers experience higher rates of PTSD and suicide than active duty soldiers. How are spouses coping with this? How is it affecting their marriage? Is there volatile behavior in the home? Are spouses experiencing any behavioral health issues? Where do spouses turn for help? Is military family support helpful? Is support from family or friends helpful? This study seeks to answer these important questions.

This nationwide study is being conducted at the University of Hawaii, and it focuses on marital distress and behavioral health issues of Army National Guard and US Army Reserve spouses. Numerous studies have researched the adverse impact military combat has on the behavioral health problems of military combat soldiers. However, little research has examined the level of post-deployment marital distress and related behavioral health issues affecting the spouses. Research is especially lacking for spouses of National Guard and Reserve soldiers.

Recruitment is underway for this study nationwide. The study is set-up as an online survey and the link to the survey is located at: The participant’s identity is not collected or required and all data received is anonymous. This study will be used to inform the public and policy makers about the challenges faced by spouses of Guard and Reserve soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan military combat deployment. Additionally, the study will inform the public and policy makers about the community and military family support service needs of this population.

If you are a civilian spouse (or unmarried couple but living together) of an Army National Guard or Reserve soldier who has returned from OEF/OIF deployment, your participation is very important. You will have the opportunity to have your personal situation heard and understood. By participating, you will help get information to the public about the challenges faced by Guard and Reserve spouses, which could lead to improved and/or new services to Guard and Reserve families. We anticipate that some spouses and their marriages are doing well and some are not. In order to understand the differences in these spouses and their marriages, it works best to compare and contrast the different situations, so we encourage spouses who are doing well to participate in the survey as well as those who feel they are not doing well.

Story by Cynthia J’Anthony, MA who is the principle investigator for this study. She is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Hawaii’s Department of Psychology.


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