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Families of Deployed Military Carry Heavy Load

FRIDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Families of U.S. military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan face a number of challenges as relationships change and they have to take on more household responsibilities, new research shows.

The yearlong study of 1,127 military families found that children of deployed parents are more likely to experience emotional difficulties and anxiety than other children their age. The youngsters in the study said they felt misunderstood by community members, challenged by the increase in household chores, and found it hard to deal with the deployed parents' mood changes when they returned home.

Military spouses said they faced a number of major stressors when their partner was deployed overseas, including a heavier household workload, changes in marriage roles, and family communication challenges, according to researchers at the RAND Corp., a nonprofit research organization.

Caregivers with spouses in the National Guard or Reserves reported poorer emotional well-being and greater household challenges than those with spouses in the full-time military.

Good communication between parents and children -- which the study authors defined as a perception of empathy and understanding -- was associated with fewer household challenges.

"These findings underscore the experiences of children and spouses when a member of the military goes off to war," lead author and behavioral scientist Anita Chandra said in a RAND news release. "While children and spouses are continuing to handle challenges well overall, it is how children and spouses handle the change in household and family relationships that affects how they cope during periods of deployment."

More information

The U.S. Department of Defense offers deployment advice for military personnel and their families.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: RAND Corp,, news release, Jan. 19, 2011

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