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Abstract

As the United States continues deployments of service members to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is increasingly important to understand the effects of this military involvement, not only on service members but also on the health and well-being of their children and spouses. The purpose of this report is to examine the functioning of a sample of youth in military families who applied to a free camp for children of military personnel and to specifically assess how these youth are coping with parental deployment. The report addresses the general well-being of military youth during and after parental deployment, with attention to their emotional, social, and academic functioning. It also examines the challenges that their nondeployed caregivers face. The study includes quantitative and qualitative components: three waves of phone surveys with youth and nondeployed caregivers, and in-depth interviews with a subsample of caregivers. The researchers found that children and caregivers who had applied to attend the camp confronted challenges to their emotional well-being and functioning. Four factors in particular (1) poorer caregiver emotional well-being, (2) more cumulative months of deployment, (3) National Guard or Reserve status, and (4) poor quality of family communication were strongly associated with greater youth or caregiver difficulties.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Methods

  • Chapter Three

    The Experience of Military Youth in the Study Sample

  • Chapter Four

    The Experience of Caregivers in the Study Sample

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Baseline Sample Recruitment: Additional Detail

  • Appendix B

    Measures

  • Appendix C

    Technical Details for Quantitative Analyses

  • Appendix D

    Youth Tables

  • Appendix E

    Caregiver Tables

  • Appendix F

    Program Participant Recommendations

The research described in this report was sponsored by the National Military Family Association, with funding from the Robertson Foundation and the Sierra Club Foundation. The research was conducted jointly by RAND Health's Center for Military Health Policy Research and the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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