Evolving Composition of a Military Family

Discussion 1: Evolving Composition of a Military Family

Change is inevitable in so many ways for military families. For example, changes can occur in stations, schools, friends, jobs, rank, rates, and experiences. This concept has been covered extensively throughout this specialization. However, what have not been discussed at length are the changes in the composition of a military family. As society changes, so does the definition of family. One might consider the concept of family to be rather simple; yet in reality, it is more complex.

Think about who is eligible for military-related services and benefits, what the Department of Defense definition is of military families, and how military families have evolved.

Review the media, The Changing Nature of the Military Family. Consider the composition of a military family and who the Department of Defense recognizes as a member of a military family. How does the composition of a military family influence how you might support these families?

By Day 3

Post an explanation of how you might reconcile the Department of Defense (DOD) definition of family and the evolving composition of the military family. Explain considerations you might need to keep in mind as you interact with military families. Explain one way DOD, military, and helping professionals should support the evolving nature of the military family.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.

By Day 5

Respond to two colleagues with an alternative perspective of considerations when working with military families or expanding upon your colleagues’ suggestions. Or, share an additional method of supporting military families.

Return to this Discussion to read the responses to your initial post. Note what you have learned and/or any insights you gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

To complete your Discussion, click on Discussions on the course navigation menu, and select “Week 1 Forum” to begin.

Response 1

Teresa Sarn-Fitch RE: Discussion 1 – Week 1COLLAPSE

As we already know, there is no longer the “typical” military family in which to identify with.  Along with all of the societal changes that we have all witnessed and endured, the military has gone from the predictable nuclear family to the more blended or reconstituted, culturally diverse, and dual-career (Pryce & Pryce et al., 2012a) to name just a few.  At one time, military families were not even considered a part of the mission (Pryce & Pryce et al., 2012a).  Over time, the military has recognized that there needs to be a strong standardized structure in place in order to establish family readiness, in order to efficiently deploy a soldier (Pryce & Pryce et al., 2012a).  One of the ways that the Department of Defense (DOD) could evolve with this ever-evolving composition of the military family is through education.  In many settings throughout the United States, many military families live in a combined setting with civilians.  Much of the civilian population are not always aware of the severe amount of stress and strain placed upon a military family, especially during deployment phases.  I think that a certain level of awareness needs to be brought to the non-military environments, and to educate the public as to what a military family looks like and what their needs are on a daily basis.  I think through this level of awareness, can be brought more help from the outside and not always necessarily through the efforts of the DOD.  One of our readings suggest that there are stigmas related to mental health issues in the military (Pryce & Pryce et al., 2012a).  While that is most certainly true, I feel that there are also other stigmas that exist when trying to help these military families.  For instance, many military families may have to move great distances in order to relocate with the soldier.  This usually means adjusting to new cultural norms, children adjusting to new schools, and becoming familiar with the different services that they need.  During this time, it is quite possible that these families are stereotyped by the outside world and therefore stigmatized, due to the lack of information about what a real military family really looks like.

As a social worker, I would want to make sure that I identify all of the roles and the dynamics that exist with the particular family I am assisting.  Our readings also bring to light that many military personnel can’t meet the demands of both family and mission.  I would try and seek innovative ways in which the family and the soldier can enjoy quality family time together.

I think that the DOD should have continuing education for their personnel to include furthering the idealogy that the idea of “family” does not follow the rigid standard that it once stood for.  Different people have different support systems, and that theory also exists outside the military as well.  It is a changing world.


Pryce, J. G., Pryce, D. H., & Shackleford, K. K. (2012a).  Social work and military families         [PDF].  In The costs of courage:  Combat stress, warriors, and family survival (pp. 119-          144).  Chicago, IL:  Lyceum Books.


Response 2

Kenechukwu Menakaya RE: Discussion 1 – Week 1 Main PostCOLLAPSE

The Department of Defense (DOD) definition of family and the evolving composition of the military family are the active-duty service members, members of the National Guard, Reserve, and veterans. This includes members of their immediate and extended families (adopted children) and the families of those who lost their lives in service to this country (Clever & Segal, 2013). The Departments definition recognizes that the federal government and the nation have a commitment to everybody that has served this nation, as well as to those who have supported that service. However, studies and data collected on military families and children tend to define military families as spouses and dependent children (age 22 and younger) of military personnel on active duty or in the National Guard and Reserve (Clever & Segal, 2013). However, the quashing of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, has added this group as part of legetimate military family (Clever & Segal, 2013).

The considerations that I need to review as I interact with military families are that military families tend to marry and have children earlier than civilians. This model is impacted by military policy and by the personal characteristic for people most likely to join the military, this is because of the high risk of the job. We need to consider the nature of being a military family as it requires frequent moving, prolong and repeated deployments, and its effect on spouse and children, particularly in children’s educational and social development (Clever & Segal, 2013). Meanwhile, we also need to understand specific trends that distinguish military families from their civilian counterparts, as military families are a diverse population whose needs differ over time and across equivalent populations. No particular story can confine who military families are or what they need to thrive in military and civilian communities. However, a similar context shows that military families and children need flexible policies that can adapt to their diverse and dynamic needs (Clever & Segal, 2013).

One way that the Department of Defense, military, and helping professionals can support the evolving nature of the military families and other service members, are by taking care of their psychological needs. These invisible wounds mostly do not emerge until months or years after they have returned from deployment and left military service. However, evidence indicates that symptoms of PTSD can be transferred to family members. Meanwhile, programs that seek to help with PTSD and other mental health problems should take a family-centered approach and should continue to reach out to veterans and their families after they have been discharged or even if they did not report mental health problems when they came home from war (Clever & Segal, 2013).


Clever, M. & Segal, D.R. (2013). The Demographics of military children and families. The Future of Children, 23(2), pp.13-39.

Submission and Grading Information
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:
Week 1 Discussion 1 Rubric

Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5

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Week 1 Discussion 1

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