After 13 years at war, the U.S. faces unprecedented challenges in caring for military service members and their families. Numerous programs address the mental and physical health needs of veterans, but few attend to the needs and experiences of their family members. In particular, spouses’ views on, and needs for, mental health have received sparse research attention.
Veteran spouses often bear the burden as caregivers to veterans, and sometimes report feeling that they and their families are left out of efforts that support veterans. Veterans’ families face a diverse pool of concerns including secondary effects of service members’ posttraumatic stress disorder, persistent family functioning deficits and parenting challenges due to prolonged separation, readjustment problems, and attachment disorders as well as transition challenges faced by children. Given the substantial burden faced by military families after prolonged war and multiple deployments, access to targeted and effective programming informed by research is greatly needed.
The Veteran Spouse Network (VSN) project will meet this need by providing a platform for communication and research action to enable veteran spouses to inform, evaluate and advocate for use of effective mental health care practices in their communities.