The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Houston have teamed up in a $2.7 million Department of Defense funded research project to determine the effects of deployment on military families.
“The ultimate goal of this project is to better understand the effects of military deployment on family functioning in order to develop and guide support programs for these families,” said Charmaine Higa-McMillan, an associate professor of psychology at UH Hilo and principal investigator for the ʻOhana Heroes Project at the UH Hilo site. Co-principal investigators in this multisite grant are professors Deborah Beidel at the University of Central Florida and Candice Alfano at the University of Houston.
“Parental deployment creates significant stress for both the deployed parent and the family left behind. Although significant numbers of U.S. combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan will be returning over the next year, there are still thousands of troops deployed across the globe across all service branches, including each branch’s reserve component and the National Guard,” Higa-McMillan added. “Unique to the current conflicts, families of deployed troops face increasing distress as a result of repeated and lengthening deployments.”
In addition to interviews and surveys, the study builds on past research by examining biological markers of stress such as stress hormones and disrupted sleep patterns as well as examining whether the non-deployed parent’s distress impacts the child’s psychosocial and academic functioning. Also unique to this study is the use of civilian families and non-deployed military families as control groups.
Read the UH Hilo news release for more on the ʻOhana Heroes Project.