Post-Traumatic Stress Now a Leading Concern for Military Families

Article excerpt

The nonprofit Blue Star Families surveys military families and identifies their Top 5 concerns. Other concerns include shrinking retirement benefits and the effect of deployment on kids.

A new survey that ranks the top struggles and worries of military families finds that after more than a decade of war, soldiers and their spouses are feeling isolated and financially strapped.

The vast majority - 95 percent - point to a civil-military divide, agreeing with the statement that most Americans "do not truly understand or appreciate the sacrifices made by service members and their families." Another 40 percent say their community "did not embrace opportunities to help military children."

For the first time, post-traumatic stress was a top concern for families - a development that the survey's creators found "most surprising," says Stephanie Himel-Nelson, spokesman for Blue Star Families, the nonprofit made up of troops, veterans, and their spouses that conducted the survey.

Equally surprising, she adds, is that of those who had reported post-traumatic stress in family members, more than 60 percent had not sought treatment for it.

"Post-traumatic stress has never been in the Top 5 [concerns] before," Ms. Himel-Nelson says.

The questionnaire of some 4,200 military families is designed to uncover "key trends in military family relationships," according to Blue Star Families. Conducted last November, it delves into views on stress, financial prospects, and the effects of deployments.

It finds that the prospect of shrinking retirement benefits is the No. 1 source of concern for 31 percent of the survey's respondents. One-fifth cited potential changes in pay and benefits as their top concern, while 7 percent reported that the effect of deployment on their kids was No. …