Understanding the experiences of military families

Sewart, Mark Reginald (2022) Understanding the experiences of military families. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
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Why is it important to understand the authentic experience of military family life? Military family life is unique and challenging but it is not without reward. Research into the challenges is manifold, whereas adaptive behaviours attract less attention. To better inform those who seek to support the military family, a more balanced and nuanced understanding of experiences that may warrant mitigation or maximisation may lead to more empathic and insightful policy and intervention. This would not only benefit the family, but also the service person(s) through reduction in domestic stressors and a sense of holistic support.

How has the research been undertaken? A Narrative Inquiry approach was employed to interview families of recent military veterans, inviting them to reflect on their experiences as a military family and capture the entire journey from enlistment to transition back to civilian life. No preconditions were set and they were invited to tell their story on their own terms, consistent with the methodology. A theoretical framework based on social constructivism, strengths-based approaches and family systems theory was employed to analyse the subsequent data.

What are the main research findings? Many of the known challenges such as separation, accommodation, spousal employment, access to healthcare and childrens’ education were highlighted. However, there were many examples of positive growth for some or all and overall the stories were positive, suggesting that those interviewed had been able to contextualise their experiences and in most cases celebrate growth and resilience as a family. As Brockman et al (2015) note, “It is remarkable that the majority of military service members and their intimate partners and children show considerable resilience in the face of these significant challenges”

Why do these findings matter? Policy, aided by research, is most often employed to deal with a problem. A more measured and comprehensive understanding of the military family experience that acknowledges the benefits as well as the difficulties and seeks to preserve the former whilst mitigating the latter could potentially lead to policy that was more effective and enduring. Ultimately, anything which enhances combat power in our Armed Forces is invaluable and for service personnel to feel confident that their family were being supported and could in turn then support them would act as what is referred to in the military as a ‘force multiplier’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: military culture, military housing, service childrens’ education, health and wellbeing, social cohesion
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Nursing, Midwifery and Health
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2023 07:34
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2023 08:00
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/51583

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