Work, Family & Stress: Deployment Resilience & Retention - Wave II


Name: Penny Pierce

Rank: Col, USAFR

Organization: University of Michigan

Performance Site: The University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research; The University of Michigan, School of Nursing

Year Published: 2005

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. OIF has dominated Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan, sometimes called the "forgotten war", which has been overshadowed by OIF in the national media yet remains as dangerous but with little public recognition. Both operations have involved large-scale mobilizations, prolonged insurgency warfare, and an uncertain and turbulent future. To date, mental health disorders are the leading cause of evacuation from the theater of operations and are also historically, the leading cause of attrition from military service. We do not currently know the impact of these deployments (OIF and OEF) on important outcomes such as mental health and retention. Given the Secretary of Defense projection that our involvement in the region will continue for another 5-7 years, it is critical that untoward consequences of deployment are recognized early and given appropriate intervention. The purpose of this proposed project is to extend our current research with an additional wave of data collection (Wave II) from the same panel of 1000 respondents who will be providing data at Wave I in the spring of 2005. The scientific and military value of a longitudinal post-deployment study is threefold: (1) to obtain "real time" deployment outcome data with a representative Air Force sample to allow for more rigorous statistical analyses of various causal hypotheses regarding the factors that promote mental health and functioning, deployment readiness, and retention; to rule out competing hypotheses including psychological stress among others, all the while controlling for the effects of age, gender, rank and other background factors; (2) to conduct a study that to our knowledge is the only deployment study of Air Force personnel to rival those being conducted by the Marines and the U.S. Army; and (3) to establish a site for the repository of these data to be available to other investigators for future hypothesis testing. Both Joint Vision 2020 Transformation and the Air Force Vision 2020 speak about a "close monitoring of the impact of operations tempo". This proposed longitudinal component is invaluable in building the first program of research focusing on the deployment experiences and outcome of Air Force personnel. With this additional component, we will support a DoD requirement established by Presidential Review Directive (PRD5), to be forward-looking and systematically collecting data on stressors including exposure to traumatic events, anxiety, family separation and reunion, and for the reserve forces, successful reintegration into their civilian careers. Ultimately we hope to be able to determine if there are preventable risks to the mental health and retention of military members and their families that are associated with specific military duties, deployment, occupational and family stressors, or a combination of these factors. Information gathered in Wave II of the proposed study will prove invaluable to our efforts to protect the well-being, readiness and retention of the nation's servicemen and servicewomen through interventions targeted at preventing or resolving untoward post-deployment outcomes.


Final report is available on NTRL: