Perceptions of the Impact a Military Career has on Children

September, 2014

This article examines the implications a military career has on the child’s well-being.


Background: The perceived effects of a military career on service personnel's children have been largely overlooked. Aims To examine the views of military personnel about the impact their career has on their children in relation to socio-demographic variables, military characteristics and mental health symptoms. Methods: Service personnel (regular and reserve) with one or more children (<18 years) were included. Data were taken from a large UK military cohort study completed between 2007 and 2009. Participants were asked to report whether they viewed their military career as having a positive, negative or no impact on their children. Results: There were 3198 participants. Just over half (51%) of service personnel perceived their military career as having a negative impact on their children. Not being in a relationship (multinominal odds ratio 2.65, 95% CI 1.81-3.88), deployment for 13 months or more within a 3 year period (1.85, 1.31-2.62), symptoms of common mental health disorder (2.21, 1.65-2.96) and probable post-traumatic stress disorder (3.26, 1.39-7.66) were associated with perceiving military career as affecting children negatively. Reserves were less likely than regulars (0.37, 0.27-0.51) and other ranks were less likely than non-commissioned officers (0.67, 0.46-0.98) to report negative effects of their military career on their children. Conclusions: Contrary to previous research findings, regulars were more likely to report a negative impact, reflecting this study's focus on the wider military context, rather than just deployment. These findings are consistent with existing research showing links between deployment length and negative impact.

Full Reference

Rowe, S.L., Keeling, M., Wessely, S. Fear, N.T. Perceptions of the impact a military career has on children (2014). Occupational Medicine doi:10.1093occmedkqu096

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