Activation Experiences During the Persian Gulf War


Name: Barbara Nelson

Rank: Lt Col, USAFNG

Organization: Vanderbilt University

Performance Site: Beth-El College Of Nursing, Colorado Springs, CO

Year Published: 1994

Abstract Status: Final


Activation and mobilization of National Guard and Reserve forces are believed to increase families' need for support. Stresses associated with activation include threat of bodily harm and changes associated with new employers, socioeconomic status, and family situations. This ethnographic study proposed to:

    1. Describe patterns experienced by National Guard and Reserve military members, their families, family support personnel, and selected military commanders in the National Guard as a result of activation and mobilization during the Persian Gulf War.


    1. Describe their experiences during this period.


    1. Explore ways they facilitated or impeded living with these experiences.


    1. Identify military organizational problems that affected National Guard and Reserve military members' ability to perform their assigned duty or caused their families undue hardship or stress during the Persian Gulf War.

The sample included 59 military members, family members including children, commanders, and family support personnel from National Guard and Reserve Forces. Data were collected by interviews, participant observation, and examination of documents, journals, and newspapers.Five themes emerged: 1) Staying connected, 2) Living with war, 3) Fluctuating emotions, 4) Refocus your sense of life, and 5) Challenges of living day to day. The study found a pervasive, lingering, echoing presence of the war in participants' consciousness. This study will contribute to understanding what military members and their families experience during activation, mobilization, deployment, and deactivation and will assist military leaders and planners to modify existing family support. Recommendations include: (1) develop a consistent definition of family support, (2) facilitate communication with deployed military members, (3) support re-assimilation, (4) provide ongoing education on family support, (5) develop children's educational programs, (6) create a military family support cadre to assist families of deployed personnel, and (7) impose pay equity insurance to assist the transition from civilian to military pay status.


Final Report is available on NTRL: