May 13, 2011
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have put America's all-volunteer force to its most severe test since its inception in 1973. Between 1996 and 2002, 31,000 to 77,000 U.S. servicemembers were deployed abroad on active duty at any given time. Between 2003 and 2007, however, that range reached 74,000 to 294,000.
A line graph provides a visual representation of this information. The number of deployed U.S. servicemembers spikes in 2003 before decreasing again, but remains significantly higher than pre-2003 levels and continues to slowly increase.
This overall increase has been sustained through successful military recruiting and incentive strategies. But how are the troops and their families faring?
A growing body of RAND research is helping to illustrate the consequences so that support programs and other policies can better serve the populations in need.
For more information about RAND research on this issue, including insight into the ways the military is sustaining readiness, see www.rand.org/feature/military-well-being
NOTE: Deployment graphic and ranges are based on How Is Deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan Affecting U.S. Service Members and Their Families? RAND/OP-316, 2011, p. 3, www.rand.org/t/OP316.
More than two million U.S. servicemembers have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of these troops experience trauma while deployed and return home with mental health conditions. A variety of barriers may be preventing many of those in need from seeking care.
Nearly 20 percent of servicemembers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression, as of fall 2007. More than 400,000 could be affected as of today.
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) suicide rates have historically been lower than those of a comparable subgroup of the U.S. population. In 2006, an increase in the DoD rate began to narrow the gap.
NOTE: Based on RAND research into probable rates of PTSD and major depression among servicemembers returning from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and into suicide rates; see Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery, RAND/MG-720, 2008, p. 98, www.rand.org/t/MG720, and The War Within: Preventing Suicide in the U.S. Military, RAND/MG-953, 2011, pp. xv, 15, www.rand.org/t/MG953.
NOTE: Based on RAND research into rates of trauma exposure among servicemembers deployed to OEF or OIF; see Invisible Wounds of War, p. 97.
NOTE: Based on a survey of servicemembers deployed to OEF or OIF; see Invisible Wounds of War, p. 104.
The lives of spouses and caregivers from military families change dramatically during deployment. There are both challenges and benefits, but, for many, child- and employment-related problems appear to worsen.
according to a survey of active-duty U.S. Air Force spouses
NOTE: Based on a RAND survey of active-duty U.S. Air Force spouses; see Year of the Air Force Family: 2009 Survey of Active-Duty Spouses, RAND/TR-879, 2011, pp. 18, 21, 25, www.rand.org/t/TR879.
NOTE: Based on a RAND survey of families that applied to the Operation Purple camp program; see Views from the Homefront: The Experiences of Youth and Spouses from Military Families, RAND/TR-913, 2011, p. 46, www.rand.org/t/TR913.
according to interviews with spouses of deployed reserve component personnel
NOTE: Based on RAND interviews with Reserve and National Guard families that experienced at least one overseas deployment; see Deployment Experiences of Guard and Reserve Families: Implications for Support and Retention, RAND/MG-645, 2008, pp. 71, 109, www.rand.org/t/MG645.
Along certain measures of functioning and well-being, children from military families are no different from other children. However, they do report experiencing more anxiety symptoms, emotional difficulties, and problems with family functioning.
NOTE: Based on a RAND survey of families that applied to the Operation Purple camp program; see Views from the Homefront: The Experiences of Youth and Spouses from Military Families, RAND/TR-913, 2011, p. xv, www.rand.org/t/TR913.
|Summer '08||6 months later||12 months later|
|Emotional difficulties (youth-reported)||11.5||10.2||9.7|
|Emotional difficulties (caregiver-reported)||9.9||8.1||8.5|
|School connectedness issues||N/A||5.0||5.0|
|Academic engagement issues||4.8||4.3||4.4|
|Family functioning difficulties||4.3||3.8||3.8|
|Peer functioning difficulties||1.8||1.6||1.3|
Values are mean scores.
NOTE: Based on a RAND survey of families that applied to the Operation Purple camp program; see Views from the Homefront, p. 25.
NOTE: Based on multiple studies (youth in the general population) and a RAND survey of families that applied to the Operation Purple camp program (military kids); see Views from the Homefront, pp. 24, 28.
Infographic by Erin-Elizabeth Johnson (concept and data storytelling) and Pete Soriano (design). Excerpted from RAND Review/Summer 2011.