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Deployment Experiences of Guard and Reserve Families

Deployment Experiences of Guard and Reserve Families: Implications for Support and Retention

Laura Werber Castaneda
Margaret C. Harrell
Danielle M. Varda
Kimberly Curry Hall
Megan K. Beckett
Stefanie Stern
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Deployment Experiences of Guard and Reserve Families
    Book Description:

    Use of the Reserve Component has steadily increased since the 1990s, but little research has focused on how deployment affects guard and reserve families. This monograph presents the results of interviews with reserve component personnel and spouses, focusing on their deployment experiences and military career intentions. The authors conclude with suggestions on how the Department of Defense can better support guard and reserve families.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4671-0
    Subjects: Technology, Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xv-xxvi)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The nation’s reliance on the Reserve Component, which includes the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Forces Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve, has steadily increased since the first Gulf War in 1990–1991. As noted in the Commission on the National Guard and Reserve’s (CNGR’s) March 2007 report to Congress, almost 250,000 reserve component personnel were involuntarily activated for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Involuntary activations persisted throughout the 1990s as guard and reserve personnel conducted missions in support of operations in Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo. In total, more than 550,000...

  10. CHAPTER TWO What Are the Characteristics of Guard and Reserve Families?
    (pp. 13-32)

    In the preceding chapter, we noted that, as a whole, reserve component families look different from active component families in several ways. In this chapter, we expand on that premise by comparing and contrasting the four reserve components included in our study with their active component counterparts, and with one another. We draw on our military family expert interviews to provide additional insights to this description of guard and reserve families, with emphasis on their potentially unique characteristics and concerns. Finally, we describe our interview participants in terms of how they compare with the overall reserve components from which the...

  11. CHAPTER THREE How Ready Are Guard and Reserve Families?
    (pp. 33-66)

    Family readiness is regarded as a critical aspect of preparedness for a service member’s active duty service. DoD has stated that “The Department’s ability to assist service members and their families to prepare for separations during short and long term deployments is paramount to sustaining mission capabilities and mission readiness” (Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs [RA], no date). Accordingly, family readiness was extensively addressed in theNational Guard and Reserve Family Readiness Strategic Plan for 2000–2005(RA, 2002) and has been regularly assessed at various levels, including in such large-scale surveys as DMDC’s 2006...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR What Problems Do Guard and Reserve Families Report?
    (pp. 67-106)

    This research effort explored the problems and challenges faced by reserve component families. When we asked experts on reserve family issues about problems that they believed these families confront, the majority of military family experts indicated that reserve component families experience the following problems: financial problems, health care issues, emotional or mental problems, and household responsibility issues. The expert discussions of problems faced by guard and reserve families included the comments that follow. More than the other problems, the experts tended to mention financial problems. These comments were typical:

    They have problems with the pay system or understanding the pay...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE What Positives Do Guard and Reserve Families Report?
    (pp. 107-122)

    This research effort also considered the positives experienced by reserve component families as a result of activation or deployment. When we asked the experts on guard and reserve family issues to discuss the positives that they felt these families incurred, patriotism and personal gratification were the most frequently mentioned positives, followed by financial benefits gained, with some of the experts also specifically mentioning health benefits. Discussion of the positives included the following comments:

    Service to this great nation. These are all volunteers and they are enormously proud of what they are doing. (17: Non-DoD military family expert)

    It is a...

  14. CHAPTER SIX How Well Do Guard and Reserve Families Cope?
    (pp. 123-138)

    Prior research has evaluated the extent to which families cope with deployment, and which types of families report difficulty coping with deployment, but has not offered a precise definition or explanation for coping (see, for example, Caliber Associates, 2003). In this research, we explore the extent to which families share a common understanding of what it means to cope with deployment, which types of families report coping well, and whether there are relationships between reported levels of coping, the problems or positives mentioned by families, and their retention intentions. The relationship between coping and retention intentions is considered later, in...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN What Resources Do Guard and Reserve Families Use During Deployment?
    (pp. 139-178)

    In addition to considering the problems and positives families experienced as a result of their deployment, we also examined the resources that families turned to for support during deployment. In this chapter, we summarize the key findings related to families’ use of both formal or military resources and informal or non-military ones. We also discuss reasons why families may not be accessing these resources, as suggested in both our expert interviews and those with spouses and service members. Finally, we consider issues related to cross-leveling, or otherwise deploying individuals without their usual unit, and how that practice influenced both families’...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT How Do Guard and Reserve Familiesʹ Retention Plans Differ?
    (pp. 179-204)

    In earlier sections of this monograph, we discussed family perceptions of the notice they received prior to activation, family readiness, the problems and positives that service members and spouses associated with deployment, and family coping. In this chapter, we consider the implications that those findings potentially have for the retention of guard and reserve personnel. Three questions related to retention intention were included in our interviews with service members: intentions to stay until retirement eligibility, the impact of the most recent activation on the service member’s career plans, and his or her spouse’s opinion toward the service member’s military career....

  17. CHAPTER NINE What Are Guard and Reserve Familiesʹ Suggestions for Better Support?
    (pp. 205-244)

    In this chapter, we discuss what the service members and spouses we interviewed think the military could do to better support their families. Specifically, we posed an open-ended question also used in the 2006 Survey of Reserve Component Spouses: “How can the military provide better support for you and your family?” We maintain that understanding their suggestions, along with their expectations and opinions of the military, is an important aspect of our research. Since we used an open-ended question, spouses and service members indicated the suggestions that were most salient to them; it is possible if they had been presented...

  18. CHAPTER TEN Conclusion and Recommendations
    (pp. 245-256)

    In this study, we interviewed military family experts as well as both reserve component spouses and service members to provide insights related to how guard and reserve families experience deployment. This approach permitted us to consider not only spouse and service member perceptions related to their deployment experience, but also what implications these perceptions have for family support and service member retention. Specifically, in the report we emphasized family readiness, the problems and positives that stem from deployment, and family coping, and we assessed whether these issues may influence retention intentions. Additional findings pertain to the resources used by families...

  19. APPENDIX A: Expert Interviews
    (pp. 257-262)
  20. APPENDIX B: Service Member and Spouse Interviews
    (pp. 263-334)

    This appendix features methodological details regarding the interviews conducted with spouses and service members. This information includes data regarding the difficulty contacting our interview sample, the introductory letter that was sent to potential interviewees, the interview introduction, the interview protocols themselves, a technical description of how the interviews were coded and further analyzed, and an abbreviated form of the coding tree used to analyze these interviews.

    As we discussed in Chapter One, we had difficulty contacting sufficient service members and spouses from the included components, for a couple of reasons. One of the problems we faced was the large proportion...

  21. References
    (pp. 335-338)