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Making Military Families in Canada a Research Priority

January, 2015
Article:

This article calls for greater research effort on the topic of Canadian military families.

Abstract

With the emphasis on deployment and deployment effects, there is a paucity of research that explores protracted separation and reintegration. It is vital to understand how to support resiliency and adaptation of families in which an OSI exists in addition to typical reintegration stressors. Although the ombudsman's report suggests that today's military family mirrors the diversity in family form and function evident in contemporary Canadian families overall, current research that explores military families has focused on the traditional construction of family, specifically a heterosexual couple with children. Moreover, there are subpopulations that may experience additional health vulnerabilities, such as the families of Reservists, single-parent families, the families of female military personnel, or same-sex couples with children. For example, in one US study, mothers who returned from a deployment struggled more with family adjustment and mental health symptoms than non-deployed mothers in families in which a parent had deployed. Evaluation of existing programs is critical to ensuring that the services that military families are receiving are effective in achieving their goals. Programs that are developed ad hoc to address pressing issues may not, on evaluation, prove to be effective. It is critical that evaluation strategies become embedded as part of the norm of intervention development, refinement, and validation. The availability of services and programs varies across bases and MFRCs according to their unique operational and contextual needs. As such, the key ingredients that contribute to the success of an intervention or program initiative need to be clarified through research so that they can be generalized to other MFRCs and scaled up across regions. Tailoring interventions and programs to local contexts will be important as broader system issues and needs such as education and employment opportunities are considered. The use of innovative technologies to enable continuity of access to health care as well as health and education system navigation support should also be explored. Military families in Canada increasingly reside in more diverse areas in military communities, beyond the traditional regions close to base. The perspectives and knowledge requirements of professionals such as educators and health care providers who work with military families every day need to be identified and understood so that professional development opportunities can be created to ensure their competence in meeting the needs of military families. Military families live in broader communities, so developing collaborations and enhancing capacity within those broader communities is necessary if we are to make a difference.

Full Reference

Cramm, H., Norris, D., Tam-Seto, L., Eichler, M., Smith-Evans, K. "Making Military Families in Canada a Research Priority", Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, Volume: 1. No:2, 2015, p. 8-12.

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