Being in the military is an honorable profession that provides service members and their families with exciting opportunities, healthcare, a sense of community, and a specific skill set that is unique to each individual and family. However, a career in the military is not without its challenges. For instance, many families have experienced the significant stress of deployment, specifically the prolonged period of separation between soldier and family. As a result, the non-deployed parent/spouse assumes all responsibilities of childcare, academics, athletic practices, and household duties. The increase in physical demands and responsibilities that are placed on the non-deployed parent can have tremendous emotional, spiritual, and social impact on their well being. During this time, the non-deployed spouse may struggle with feelings of loneliness, self-doubt, self-efficacy, burnout, and loss of free time unless he or she has a strong support system.
For the soldier, this period of separation is marked by feelings of duty, honor, loneliness, frustration, and inactivity or boredom. During this time, soldiers often describe conflictual feelings between the responsibility to one's country, battle buddies, and family. The complexities of deployment coupled with poor environmental conditions, exposure to trauma, and being separated from one's family increases the risk of soldiers developing severe mental health conditions.
Over 2 million soldiers have deployed on combat and peace keeping missions since 2001 in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation New Dawn (OND). Not only have these soldiers witnessed and experienced unimaginable horrors and trauma during deployment, these soldiers also experience extreme difficulties returning to U.S. soil and adjusting to civilian life. One of the most difficult challenges is “reintegration,” or the ability to assimilate back into their family or community and negotiate roles associated with pre-deployment such as parenting/child care, financial responsibilities, household tasks, and friendships. Many soldiers experience difficulties making this transition and report an internal conflict between time and loyalty with their families and their battle buddies. On the other hand, the non-deployed spouse who assumed all responsibilities while the soldier was away has to be able and willing to share some of his or her parenting, financial, and household tasks with the returning soldier. The inability to reintegrate back into the family and negotiate roles can result in irritability, anger outbursts, conflict, isolation, and communication and intimacy problems.
A 2015 study on military soldiers returning home found that 57.2% of soldiers received a provisional mental health diagnosis such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (55%), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) (45%), or anxiety disorder (43%). Another study found that 76% of veterans presenting to the VA had a comorbid diagnosis of PTSD and substance use disorder (SUD) since 2008. A recently published article in the journal of Head Trauma and Rehabilitation reported that of the 1150 soldiers experiencing a first deployment in 2011 the vast majority had experienced Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Soldiers deployed during this time were 8 times more likely to sustain a TBI the first 4-weeks of deployment compared to the remaining 32 weeks.
Given the high incidence of mental health, substance abuse, and TBI among soldiers, there is a growing and strong need for counselors to be on the front lines providing services to these men and women. Veterans and active duty soldiers have described feelings of frustration and disappointment in their attempts to receive counseling and medical services through the VA, primarily due to the VA's inability to meet the high number of soldiers requesting services. This has resulted in soldiers waiting several months to see a counselor or social worker and the difficulty to receiving prior authorization for services or procedures.
Our office is prepared to work military service members and their families to help them reintegrate back into their communities and rebuild their lives. We accept Tricare, Triwest/Veterans Choice, and Military One Source.
Dr. Broussard has experience working with veterans, reserves, and active-duty military personal with: