Military Spouses ~ the heroes they are, the difficulties they face, and the importance of supporting them!
Wearing many hats; non-stop juggling between constant moving boxes, relocations, raising children possibly alone for those that have them, making decisions for the household, learning to be resilient because they are unable to lean on anyone, while still having to function as if everything is alright is the reality of the military spouse. Loneliness is the norm as they slowly give up dreams of stability and building a life together with the ones they love by their side and resign themselves to numerous deployments, unemployment, isolation, conflicts, and pain. The struggles that military spouses are up against is no small feat. For some, their spouses pay the ultimate price in the battle field for freedom; while they are home based sacrificing their love life, an ideal family life, and a bright future for fears, sorrows, uncertainties, financial constraints, and emotional overload. What does all these mean?
A survey conducted showed that military spouses’ mental health is adversely affected by the impact of the military lifestyle. Responses from individuals ranging in age from 21 all the way to over 60 were obtained. Out of a total of 44 responses, 95 percent have struggled with depression. When asked to rate their mental health, close to 35 percent responded with average mental health and about 20 percent with poor mental health. The data collected showed that deployment was the highest reason for mental health fluctuations at 78 percent. Location of duty station was at 66 percent, loss of employment was at 46 percent, and Temporary Assigned Duty was at 22 percent.
With the statistics reported, one of the most important services that military spouses require is resources channeled to deal with depression. But more significant than dealing with depression is providing the services that will minimize the factors contributing to depression. Depression is a symptom that can be attributed to the instability and isolation multiple deployments create. Military spouses awaken to the drudgery of a new location without friends, extended family, and familiar places. Here, the search for a new job begins again. As difficult as employment opportunities are for regular job seeker, the military spouse is faced with greater challenges due to a possible history of short term employments or no previous employment and possible fears of employers to hire short term staff. Therefore, reduced income, loss of career choices, frustrations, and identity crisis are some of the consequences of being a military spouse toppled with the absence of his or her partner in many instances.
How can we find ways to help military spouses not feel isolated, forgotten, and marginalized? How do we build a community that provides services catering to the overall well-being of our military spouses in an environment of acceptance and warm regard? There are so many reasons military spouses need support but let’s start with the basics. Educating ourselves on the insurmountable challenges of the military spouse so that strategic structures can be created and put in place to provide a life that is worth living for the heroes of our country.
By Adrianna Onwawoma, Director of Research and Policy