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Surviving the Challenges of the Military Family

Surviving the Challenges of the Military Family


Surviving the Challenges of the Military Family


Like most families, military families struggle with day-to-day pressures and challenges. They are concerned about their safety, fret about their financial security, worry about childcare and education, and also experience marital distress. Military families, however, also face difficult issues that civilian families cannot even fathom. In the face of these unique adversities, military families may experience grief, conflict, anger, depression, or trauma. The Fiscal Times listed the top stressors common to military families that give them much nervousness and uncertainty.


Employment and Work-Related Pressures

Finding employment after retirement from service is one of the top concerns of military members. Most of them are prepared for civilian employment, with 80 percent ready to assume leadership roles in their communities. Unfortunately, almost half of the veteran population is not satisfied in their chosen career field. This includes those who don’t find meaning in showcasing their veterans’ skills in the civilian world.

Military spouses are also hindered by a variety of lifestyle factors, such as frequent movement across the country or the world. Every time the family relocates, the spouse needs to adjust their employment status. Only 45 percent of military spouses are working in full-time or part-time jobs; they are more likely to be underemployed than their civilian counterparts.



More than 14 percent of service members have reported experiencing depression after deployment. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that the number could be higher, due to the fact that some service members prefer to keep quiet about their condition. Along with this, an estimated 19 percent of service members have traumatic brain injuries sustained during combat; these types of injuries can potentially activate depressive symptoms. Their spouses and children are also at an increased risk for emotional and behavioral problems due to multiple deployments and trauma-related issues.


Financial Difficulties

While military service members receive higher pay than civilians, their lifestyle can eat up much of their earnings because their work demands frequent relocations that disrupt their spouses’ careers. Then, when the service member leaves the military, the family may experience a drop in income; about 50 percent of military service members believe they will not benefit from their post-retirement pay. All of these factors can be sources of anxiety over the military lifestyle.


Marital or Relationship Issues

Married service members may also face relationship issues arising from their frequent deployment. Military life for couples means spending substantial amounts of time living apart. Keeping in touch with each other can be extremely challenging, especially if the service member is out in the field or working for extended hours. Even the strongest couple may experience difficulties, such as infidelity and communication barriers, that stand in the way of upholding the relationship. Getting marital counseling can be the key to an enduring marriage.


Lack of Social Support

No amount of preparation can equip a military family for deployment. The sudden change in family roles may add to the burden of stressors already felt by the family. Social support, particularly from extended family, friends, community, and social networks, plays an important role in managing the many tasks involved for a family while the military spouse is on active duty. Although the military provides care and support for the brave service members, there is also increased pressure for health care providers to deliver special support services that military families will need for many years to come.


Strengthening the Military Family

Military families, whether living in installations or civilian communities, face unique challenges pertinent to military life and culture that can affect their functioning and well-being. Stressors such as deployment and reintegration may disrupt relationships within the family and with others.

Some military families may be healthy and resilient in warding off these stressors. Some groups are more at risk, including spouses and children with preexisting psychological, emotional, or behavioral health condition. A strong support system can serve as a buffer against the challenges faced by military families. More importantly, qualified mental health professionals can help reduce the distress experienced by military families.

Whether you, your spouse, or your child is having a difficult time adjusting to military life, seek help from a credible counseling organization with a commitment to care for the nation’s military families. Carolina Counseling Services — Pinehurst, NC, contracts independently with counselors; one of them may be the right-fit professional for your family. Other families may draw inspiration from you on how to face adversity and adjust to changes healthily. Call now to schedule an appointment.


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Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

Counties: Moore county, NC, Lee County, Hoke County, Chatham County

Areas: Pinehurst NC, West End NC, Taylortown NC, Seven Lakes NC, Eagle Springs NC, Jackson Springs NC, Foxfire NC, Candor NC, Norman NC, Ellerbe NC, Rockingham NC

Zip Codes: 27281, 27376, 28315, 28347, 28350, 28373, 28374, 28387, 28388, 28394

Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
Insurance: BCBSTricare Prime/Select, Medicare and Cash
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Location: Pinehurst, NC

Robin Caswell, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 5+), Individuals, Adults, Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Loss, ADHD, ODD, Trauma/PTSD, LGBTQ, Self-Harm, Military Family Life, Mood Disorders, OCD, Phobias
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare and Cash
Credit Cards:  
Location: Pinehurst, NC

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