Work, Family, & Stress: Deployment Resilience & Retention


Name: Penny Pierce

Rank: Col., USAFR

Organization: The Regents of the University of Michigan

Performance Site: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Year Published: 2004

Abstract Status: Final


Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) is the largest and most significant use of United States military forces since the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, the operational tempo of our nation's military has been at an ever-increasing state with both the demands of providing domestic security as well as large-scale international operations. Mobilization of active duty, reserve and national guard members called upon thousands to leave their families, civilian jobs, and the security of everyday life to meet the challenges of a variety of threatening and uncertain missions. Never have the operational demands of a downsized all volunteer force been so high placing an extraordinary requirement for reserve forces, in particular, to serve for extended periods of time or respond to multiple deployments in a relatively short period of time. We have no experience upon which to build expectations regarding how these recent operations will affect the mental health and well being of those who serve, nor how their deployment experiences and separation from their family will influence their willingness to remain in service.The purpose of this project is to conduct a comprehensive cross-sectional study of a total of 1000 Air Force personnel deployed during the period of Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and/or the period of hostilities that followed. The sample will be stratified by deployment site (theater/non-theater), component (active, guard, reserve), and parental status (parent/non-parent). Models of stress and coping, resource conservation, and retention will guide the survey data collection. Using the survey data, we plan to conduct analyses that describe and disentangle the additive and interactive effects of job and family stressors, war-related stressors including the mobilization and deployment, as well as organizational stressors, and support. Of specific focus will be the effects of these stressors and experiences on three outcomes: mental health functioning and well-being, deployment readiness, and retention. Our overall goal is to construct and validate two hypothesized models that are largely based on theories of stress and coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) and the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory (Hobfoll, 2002) which takes into account the personal, social and economic resources and predicts that resource loss is the principal ingredient in the stress process. Such models will inform manpower planners, policymakers, and family readiness programs to shape strategies and resources to support Air Force members and their families to successfully meet future operational challenges.


Final report is available on NTRL: