By Shawn Kennedy, Interim EIC of AJN
. . . and unfortunately, because of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, there will be many more veterans of war and its brutality. And there will also be many more families who struggle with the stress of having a family member deployed, often to dangerous places.
In this month’s issue of AJN, Erin Gabany and Teresa Shellenbarger, authors of the feature article “Caring for Families with Deployment Stress,” note that “deployment was found to have a markedly negative effect on health and well-being, with spouses reporting loneliness, anxiety, and depression in 78.2%, 51.6%, and 42.6% of all cases, respectively.” And just this week, a study published in the journal Pediatrics reports that, among children ages three to eight, “[m]ental and behavioral health visits increased by 11% in these children when a military parent deployed; behavioral disorders increased 19% and stress disorders increased 18%.”
While nurses in the military may be aware of the demands and stresses on active duty military families, civilian nurses may not be—and they are the ones who are likely to see the families of the many reserve and National Guard troops now deployed. We’re pleased to be publishing Gabany and Shellenbarger’s article, and hope it will increase awareness of the issues many families face and help nurses provide support to these families.
Nurses, too, are being deployed in large numbers; many, like army nurse Major Christopher Vanfossen, author of our new series Letters from Afghanistan, leave behind spouses and children who must cope with their absence. (Listen to a podcast of Major Vanfossen’s wife, Kelly, describing how she and her four young children cope with her husband’s deployment.)
With two of her sons deployed to Iraq, and one soon to be returning there, Sharon Stanley, chief nurse and director of Disaster Health and Mental Health Services for the American Red Cross and an AJN editorial board member, told me you never get used to deployment and feel concern “every day, every hour” for loved ones in war zones.