Complicated Family Reintegration in OEF-OIF Veterans Project Background: Family members can be a great source of support to returning service members, but problems in these relationships can add to the difficulty of readjustment to civilian life. There has been relatively little systematic research on problems in family reintegration after a wartime deployment, especially regarding the role that trauma-related symptoms have in limiting successful reintegration and the impact on family functioning. A better understanding of family reintegration and family functioning would assist the creation of interventions for veterans experiencing difficulties in these areas. Project Objectives: We plan to recruit in the Philadelphia area over 200 married/partnered military veterans who served in the OEF-OIF conflicts within 2 years of return from deployment. We will assess the degree of family reintegration problems of among veterans with psychiatric symptoms ranging from none to a high level of disturbance. We will test whether anxiety and depressive symptoms are associated with family functioning at the initial assessment and also again in 1 year. We will also test whether the impact of psychiatric symptoms on subsequent family functioning is mediated by the process of family reintegration. In a subset of the sample, we will assess the subjective reports of how depressive and anxiety symptoms may interfere with the reintegration process. Project Methods: We plan to recruit veterans and their family members from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center for this cross-sectional and longitudinal study. Assessments will be conducted with the veteran, his/her spouse by interview at the VA Medical Center, or by telephone using a structured set of interview assessments. The interviews will assess anxiety, depressive and other psychiatric symptoms, family reintegration, overall family functioning, and a range of demographic and military service covariates. Additional qualitative interview methods with the veterans and their spouses will be used to examine the subjective impact of psychiatric symptoms on family reintegration and family problems. Anticipated Impacts on Veterans Care: This study will provide findings that will help the system develop better outreach and services for returning veterans. Specifically, the findings will inform the counseling and psychiatric services that will help them return to civilian life, whether and how psychiatric difficulties impede readjustment and reintegration, and extend our knowledge about the family experiences of military veterans in the post-deployment period. These findings are highly relevant to the mission of the VA and the broader military service community. First and foremost, the VA seeks to improve the health and well-being of veterans and to enhance the well-being of their families. The support of family members of returning veterans is a key part of their post-deployment period, and understanding how to assist veterans and their families in this process is crucial.
- Complicated Family Reintegration in OEF-OIF Veterans A well-functioning family is an important form of social support for military veterans. Existing research suggests that when service members return from deployment with mental health symptoms associated with war trauma, family function deteriorates over time. We plan to test how these symptoms interfere with family functioning, in order to help us create better programs and treatments for service members returning from war with mental health problems.