In 2009, the RAND Corporation launched the Deployment Life Study, a longitudinal study of military families to examine family readiness. The study surveyed 2,724 families at frequent intervals through- out a complete deployment cycle—that is, before a service member deploys (sometimes months before), during the actual deployment, and after the service member returns (possibly a year or more after she or he has redeployed). It assessed outcomes over time, including the following: the quality of marital and parental relationships; the psychological, behavioral, and physical health of family members; child and teen well-being (e.g., emotional, behavioral, social, and academic); and military integration (e.g., attitudes toward military service, retention intentions). The Deployment Life Study used a single design and the same survey instruments to study military family members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps (modified only slightly to make them service- and component-appropriate), thus allowing for potential comparisons across services and components (active, reserve, and guard). Findings are reported and indicate: the most-significant changes experienced by military families across the deployment cycle occur during the deployment itself; significant variation exists across family members with respect to how they experience deployment; and the analyses revealed a set of risk and readiness factors that appear to be associated reliably with multiple domains of post-deployment outcomes. The study found families who engaged in pre-deployment readiness activities experienced more favorable outcomes post-deployment than families that did not and that that more frequent communication and higher satisfaction with the amount of communication with the service member during deployment was associated with more-favorable outcomes post-deployment. With respect to risk factors, the study identified the experience of traumatic events during the deployment as a risk factor for worse outcomes post-deployment. Numerous references. (Author abstract modified)
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