Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

140P How Are Current Sources of Help During Deployment Assessed by National Guard Spouses? Is Valuation of Help Associated with Attitudes about the National Guard Lifestyle?

Saturday, January 14, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Peggy H. Beall, MPM, MSW, Doctoral student, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Abstract Purpose: This study explores the use and valuation of military and civilian sources of help by spouses of the National Guard. The association between that assessment and their attitude toward the National Guard lifestyle is also explored. Since September 11, 2001 soldiers in all branches of service including the National Guard, and reservists, their spouses and children, extended families and neighbors, and communities have experienced periods of separation unlike any other era since World War II (Booth, Segal, & Bell, 2007). Prior to 2000 most military spouses adjusted well to deployments if separations were not sudden, or longer than six months. Some spouses acknowledged positive consequences such as developing a greater sense of independence or learning a new skill (Rohall, Segal, & Segal, 1999). Now the average length of deployments is 12-15 months, and the average number of deployments as of 2006 was 2.2 (DOD, 2006). Recent reports estimate that many units have been deployed up to four times (Flake, Davis, Johnson, & Middleton, 2009). Services designed to support active component families may not be appropriate for families of the National Guard (Rand, 2008). Members of the National Guard live in communities scattered across the country. Their lives more closely parallel civilian families up to the point of deployment (Department of Defense, 2003). This study seeks to identify new information about the utilization and valuation of current resources by National Guard spouses.

Method: Using data from the 2009 Survey of National Guard Spouses obtained from the Defense Manpower Data Center, Survey and Program Evaluation Division, spouses' assessment of military sources of help such as Military OneSource, Family Readiness Group, unit commander, and other unit leadership, as well as civilian sources of help such as civilian organizations, social groups/clubs, friends/coworkers, and family were analyzed. Then regression models were run (SPSS 17 ) to explore whether or not spouses' valuation of resources predicted their satisfaction with the National Guard lifestyle. Results: Between 51 and 69 percent of 5637 spouses responding to questions about the helpfulness of resources utilized military supports. Military OneSource, an Internet based program, was the most highly rated military support. More than 90 percent of spouses turned to friends, co-workers and family for help and were extremely satisfied. Between 46 and 67 percent utilized civilian organizations and social groups for help and were similarly highly satisfied. Finally, satisfaction with help provided during deployment predicted satisfaction with National Guard lifestyle.

Conclusions and Implications: More National Guard spouses indicated use and high satisfaction with civilian supports during deployment. Military OneSource was highly rated by those who used it. It would be useful to know the reasons for low utilization of military related sources of help. National Guard spouses may identify more with the civilian community as suggested in the Rand Report (2008). Barriers may exist such as lack of Internet access that prevent utilization of other resources. Further data regarding choices and satisfaction with support would ensure that support that is effective and desirable is available when needed.