Exploring Predictors of Military Spouses’ Comfort Seeking Military-Provided Counseling Services
Brown, Christye Yvonne
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Over 1.2 million (approximately half) of the service members deployed in support of the Global War on Terror were married at the time of their last deployment (Department of Defense, 2013). Data from the study of military and veteran families suggests that both stress and the process of coping with or overcoming exposure to adversity or stress resonate across the family system (Meredith L. S., et al., 2011), and that the impact of war and its consequences are experienced by partners and families in addition to service members (Lester, Blair, Saltzman, & Klosinski, 2013). The purpose of this study was to determine predictors of spouses' comfort in seeking military-provided counseling services when service members are deployed, by examining spousal coping behaviors, mental health status, and social support and demographics (rank and gender), as reported from the 2012 Active Duty Spouses Survey (ADSS). Analyzing survey data from 10,574 participants, we determined that 82.5% of the participants had spouses who were deployed for more than 30 consecutive days, and 64.3% of the participants felt comfortable using military-provided services for counseling. Statistically significant predictors of comfort-seeking, military-provided counseling services included positive coping behaviors, mental health status, social support, and the rank of the spouse’s partner. Spouses of officers were less likely to feel comfortable using military-provided services for counseling compared to spouses of enlisted service members. The level of psychological stress experienced by the spouses correlated with all predictors of comfort seeking, military-provided services for counseling. The results were consistent with previous studies on the predictors and outcomes of psychological stress among military spouses, and supported the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping. The results have practical significance because they will help planners tailor programs to optimize the uptake of counseling services for military spouses who are in need. We recommend that future research incorporate measures of the service members’ extended deployments in combat zones to determine if extended combat-related deployment predicts spouses’ comfort seeking military-provided services for counseling. Qualitative research may also be useful to provide more insight into why some military spouses feel comfortable using military-provided services for counseling while others do not.