Publication Date

2018-07-05

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2020-07-04

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2018-04-02

First Committee Member

Linda Liska Belgrave

Second Committee Member

John W. Murphy

Third Committee Member

Nick Petersen

Fourth Committee Member

Catherine Woodstock Striley

Abstract

Studies on the military family are important because it sheds light on the phenomenon of the family, it offers a unique insight into the largest single government employer in the nation, and issues addressed surrounding it can have important implications for the further development of both health and military policy. Prior research on families has consistently found that social relationships, especially close personal relationships, like marriage, have important health consequences. For that reason, understanding the impact of military life on spouses is of great importance. However, most studies have examined spouses individually, rather than concurrently as families. Empirical research has shown the crucial role mothers play in the well-being of their children and families. Research findings have shown that spouses, specifically mothers, are the linchpin of the family. Literature highlights how mother’s parenting; relationship status, stability, and health status are correlated with the welfare of the family. When compared with all married women, military spouses are at an elevated risk for physical and mental health problems. Although it is clear that military spouses suffer negative sequelae, including high rates of concurrent mental health problems, alcohol use, and substance use than their civilian counterparts, the unique military-related protective mechanisms and risk factors that contribute to such health and behavioral issues remains unclear. Hence, a systematic documentation of both negative and positive outcomes associated with military experiences, along with detailed analyses of vulnerability and resilience factors, is merited, as it will provide an innovating foundation for informing the development of prevention strategies and documenting programmatic needs of current and future US military spouses and families. In order to examine the experiences and social difficulties of women who are military spouses and mothers, this dissertation conducts in-depth focus groups with military spouses in order to focus on the meanings these women give to the military, daily life, and their social place in the family.

Keywords

military; spouse; women; military family

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