What Are The Challenges Faced By Military Families?
Military family challenges consist of psychological, physical, and financial issues. These problems should be solved to increase the quality of life of a soldier.
Joining the military is a matter of pride and showing your utmost appreciation to the home country.
Throughout history, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of soldiers have fought and died to protect their homeland. While military members are often considered heroes, they certainly don't get the appreciation heroes deserve.
Instead, they face challenges that ordinary households are unaware of. Be it psychological, physical, or emotional, military personnel are prone to multiple issues, that could endanger the lives of the soldiers or their families, if not timely resolved.
Today, we'll take a look at the multiple problems military families face and how civilians can help their military counterparts.
Major Challenges Faced By Military Family Members
Military family challenges are not talked about frequently but are affecting their lives deeply. Issues like PTSD and suicide risks are high among such families.
1) Feelings Of Isolation
Military families often move from one place to another, never settling down. In many cases, if a personnel is transferred to another garrison, chances are their family will also move with them.
While moving to a new city/town can initially be a fun experience, the family members often find themselves isolated after a while. It's like restarting a new life as people have to make new friends and start new relationships.
Further, families have to sacrifice their old lives, friends, and home to settle down in a new place. Spouses have to leave their old jobs and find new ones, while children have to change schools. As per a survey conducted by CNN in 2020, over 33% of military families accept they have no one to turn to if they ever needed a favor.
Isolation is common among the family members of military personnel, especially their partners. After moving to a new place, military officer resumes their job, but their spouses are left without a purpose.
With no family or friends to accompany them, the spouse could suffer from isolation. If left unchecked, the feeling of isolation could lead to severe issues like depression and anxiety.
Similarly, isolation could also cause a military spouse to cheat on their partners. The chances of infidelity grow higher if the personnel is stationed on a distant base or if the spouse feels neglected by their significant others.
These issues can be solved by proper couples counseling and healthy interactions between spouses. Likewise, the feeling of isolation can be treated by getting on-base support in case the family is stationed on a military base.
Maintaining friendships with other military partners and sharing their common issues can also help reduce stress.
2) Domestic Violence
The job of a military officer is a daunting and stressful task. This often leads to a risk of domestic violence in a military family.
According to Lovetoknow, the chances of domestic violence are even higher in families with a member suffering from PTSD. The nature of the violence is not limited to physical abuse as it could also come in the form of emotional, psychological, or financial abuse.
There are various factors to determine the probability of domestic violence in a family, including prior records of abuse, accessibility of weapons, use of alcohol or drugs, PTSD, and more.
The risks of domestic violence is higher in military families when compared to civilians. As per a 2021 report by the US Government Accountability Office, there were more than 15 thousand cases of domestic abuse in military families from 2015 to 2019.
The Navy also recorded seven thousand of such cases at the same time frame, Marine Corps recorded five thousand cases, and Air Force recorded over 10 thousand cases.
Similarly, the National Library of Medicine released a report on July 14, 2015, addressing the issues of abuse in military families.
The report states that nearly 27% of men suffering from PTSD were involved in physical abuse against their spouses. Likewise, 19% of men mentally abused their partners in 2014.
Domestic violence as a crime was mostly overlooked in the past. However, with increased awareness, these charges are now considered serious offenses in many countries.
The crime can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony based on the degree of the act and the harm caused to the victim.
A misdemeanor assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 60 days. On the other hand, felony charges can carry different sentences.
For instance, a third-degree felony charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years. A second-degree felony has a maximum sentence of 15 years; whereas a first-degree felony can get a person to jail for up to 30 years.
3) Mental Health Issues
Military families also suffer from mental health issues relatively more than civilians.
Soldiers stationed abroad in wartorn regions are prone to violence. They often face difficulties adjusting to their new environments when they return home.
Similarly, soldiers also witness or commit many gruesome acts during the fulfillment of their duties. These experiences remain in their memory for years, causing a clinical disorder named PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder].
Mental health problems are not limited to military personnel as their family members also suffer from conditions like anxiety and depression.
Family members of soldiers stationed outside their home countries also face multiple emotional challenges like sadness, fear for their family member's safety, and more.
How Often Do Military Families Move?
On average, Military families move every three years. The transfer to a new location is called PCS, short for Permanent Change of Station.
There are a few factors that cause families to move to a new location, including new opportunities, training, or deployment.
In many cases, soldiers are moved into different stations to fill out the vacancy of required personnel. Similarly, members are also transferred for reasons of undergoing special training.
While moving to new places can help the soldier develop adaptability and resilience, it can also have negative effects either on the military member or their family.
The US Military covers most of the expenses incurred during the moving process, so, at least, the families don't need to worry about the major costs.
However, there are still hidden costs that should be covered by the families from their personal savings.
Three are three options that a military member can choose from when it comes to moving:
- Personally Procured Move
- Partial Personally Procured Move
- Household Goods Shipment.
Under the first option, the soldier does the packing and initially covers the cost of moving.
The Personnel is later reimbursed by the US Military for the expenses incurred. However, this package comes with a drawback as only the major costs are reimbursed and minor expenses are often ignored.
Similarly, under the Partial Personally Procured Move, the member moves to a new location with some of his personal belongings, and the rest of the items are moved by professionals hired by the US Military.
Under the Household Goods Shipment plan, the movers do all the tasks of packing and moving the housing goods.
On the other hand, the cost of moving is one of the many challenges that come with the hefty task of relocating. Families still need to adjust to their new lives, make new friends, and find new jobs/schools.
Financial Condition Of Military Families
While military families might not necessarily be poor, they are certainly underpaid.
The new recruits, also called E-1, receive an annual salary of around $20 thousand, which amounts to $1695 per month. After four months of active service, the salary is increased by $138 per month. Similarly, the service members fall in the E-2 pay grade, receiving around $24,648 per year. A soldier is considered a service member after serving in the military for six months.
Although the high-ranking officers are paid a salary of over $200 thousand annually, the personnel in lower ranks still struggle to feed their families.
Furthermore, life in the military also comes with some benefits, including tax exemptions, health care, deployment, and housing allowances.
How Can We Help Veterans Military And Their Families?
From financial assistance to emotional support, there are many ways citizens can help their fellow veterans.
The contributions of military vets are pivotal to national security. Hence, civilians should consider their moral duties to make sure that military families are not struggling in their daily lives.
Celebrating Veterans Day on 11th November reminds us to thank the military.
Here are few ways civilians can support the veterans military and their families:
- Donate to Homes for Our Troops
- Provide assistance to homeless vets
- Help Patriot PAWS to train service dogs
- Donate your frequent flyer miles to military families
- Help soldiers stationed overseas to communicate with their families by donating international calling cards.
- Help a retired military to adjust to civilian life