Faculty psychologists to study effects of deployment on military families’ lives

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Researchers at Sarah Lawrence College say there is a strong need to better understand how military families discuss deployment. Studies conducted in the years following the deployment of approximately three million Americans serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) show that veterans of OEF/OIF are at high risk for combat-related mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, and substance abuse.  Less studied have been the effects of deployment on military families, though it is known that military spouses are at elevated risk for a wide range of mental health issues, divorce rates have tripled in military families, and children of deployed parents are exhibiting emotional and behavioral issues at levels above the national average.

A new study, being conducted by Adam D. Brown, PhD and Kim T. Ferguson, PhD, psychologists at Sarah Lawrence, aims to examine whether families that know more about the events that took place in each other’s lives during deployment will exhibit better psychological and behavioral wellbeing. Based on findings from studies of non-military families, that the researchers reviewed extensively, Brown and Ferguson say that although efforts are being made to address the psychological challenges facing military families there is a major gap in understanding how families talk to each other about the time that they were separated. Like other programs aimed at teaching skills to ease the transition to civilian life, Brown and Ferguson believe their data will inform the development of programs to help guide family conversations around this issue. It is their hope that the findings of this study will shed light on how certain ways of discussing deployment can ease the transition from combat to civilian life and strengthen the entire military family.

Brown and Ferguson are now interviewing families comprised of one person that was deployed to Iraq and or Afghanistan, another adult family member, and a family member aged 8-25 years. To learn more about the study, please call Adam Brown at 646-831-8657 or email slcmilitaryfamilies@gmail.com   

To schedule media interviews with Drs. Brown and Ferguson, please contact: Judith Schwartzstein, Director of Public Affairs, (914) 395-2219/C: (914) 924-7578/ judiths@sarahlawrence.edu.