Afghanistan-based US troops' families bear brunt of deployment strains

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Wautoma, Dec 31 (ANI): The impact of the Afghanistan war is not limited to the soldiers deployed there, but extends to their families back home, who bear the brunt of the psychological and emotional strain of deployments.

The work of war is very much a family affair, as nearly 6 in 10 of the US troops deployed today are married, and nearly half have children, The New York Times reports.

Social scientists are just beginning to document the rippling effects of multiple combat deployments on families- effects that those families themselves have intimately understood for years.

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in January found that wives of deployed soldiers sought mental health services more often than other Army wives.

They were also more likely to report mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and sleep disorder, the longer the deployments lasted, the report said.

Another paper published in the journal Pediatrics in late 2009 found that children in military families were more likely to report anxiety than children in civilian families.

The researchers found that the longer a parent had been deployed in the previous three years, the more likely the children were to have had difficulties in school and at home.

But those studies do not describe the myriad ways, often imperceptible to outsiders, in which families cope with deployments every day, said the newspaper report.

Siblings and grandparents have become surrogate parents, spouses have struggled with loneliness and stress, and children have felt confused and abandoned during the long separations. All have felt anxieties about the distant dangers of war, it added.

The report is part of the newspaper's series chronicling the yearlong deployment of the First Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, based in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan. (ANI)

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