US Army: Deployment Resilience and Retention


Name: Penny Pierce

Rank: Col

Organization: University of Michigan

Performance Site: The University of Michigan, School of Nursing, 400 North Ingalls, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0482; The University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research, 426 Thompson Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1248

Year Published: 2006

Abstract Status: Final


The all-volunteer US Army is in the midst of one of the most demanding periods in modern history and represents the largest deployed group with combat experience, providing 80 percent of the total force engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Growing evidence suggests that the burden of these hostilities is taking a toll on the soldiers that is seriously impacting their post-deployment mental health and willingness to remain in the Army. The military currently has little information about how to predict the personal and organizational outcomes of this kind of warfare where prolonged exposure and proximity to combat merge creating unusually high demands on this branch of our fighting forces.The purpose of this project is to conduct a comprehensive cross-sectional study of a total of 1200 Army personnel deployed during the period of Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF) to provide an additional cohort to our ongoing studies of the US Air Force personnel. The randomized 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. We plan to conduct analyses that disentangle and describe the additive and interactive effects of job and family stressors, war-related stressors including mobilization and deployment, as well as organizational stressors and support, and family stressors. 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. With analysis of various deployment experiences and work and family stressors, we will be able to model the multiple factors influencing these key outcomes. In addition, we will have the capacity to provide comparative analyses between the US Army and US Air Force to further elaborate the impact of various demographic characteristics (age and gender), psychological and social resources, combat stressors (proximity and intensity), and various deployment experiences on mental health and well being. Such models will inform manpower, policymakers, and family readiness programs to shape policy and programs to support soldiers and their families to meet future operational challenges successfully.Only when multiple organizational and deployment factors are considered together in comprehensive models, can we begin to understand the complexity of the responses of Army personnel to deployment and wartime stressors. The approach we have proposed is consistent with our previous work and should be broad enough to develop models to account for mental health and well-being, deployment readiness, and retention outcomes that are instrumental in maintaining a fit and ready force.


Final report is available on NTRL: