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Veterans Returning From Deployment Open to Family Guidance

January 31, 2020

In a small survey, the majority of veterans returning from military deployment said they would be open to taking part in a program on parenting skills. Researchers published their findings online in Military Medicine. 

“Though currently underutilized, it is possible that parenting interventions targeting military fathers have potential to improve marital relationships and family functioning and help prevent worsening mental health problems postdeployment,” researchers wrote. “Men are often reluctant to seek mental health treatment, and rates of mental health service utilization are particularly low in military populations. 

Parenting programs could also ease entry into the mental health system if necessary, researchers noted. To gauge interest in postdeployment parenting programs, they conducted an anonymous needs-and-preferences survey of 50 fathers recently back from military deployment. 

Nearly all participants—98%—reported experiencing at least one parenting issue that began or grew worse after they returned from deployment, researchers reported. Irritability and losing patience were common problems. 

Meanwhile, 86% of participants indicated interest in participating in a fathering program if one was offered. Returning veterans indicated a preference for group-based interventions with other fathers who are veterans and, perhaps, their family over classroom-based or individual services.

“Interestingly, despite the strong need and interest for such services, the majority of veteran fathers surveyed were not aware of any available military or Veterans Affairs services focused on family readjustment, and an even smaller proportion of respondents indicated that they had actually engaged in these programs,” researchers wrote. “Thus, there appears to be a wide gap between the need for and interest in fathering interventions among veterans and their actual engagement in such services.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Primack JM, Thompson M, Doyle R, Battle CL. Are Fathering Interventions Acceptable to Veterans? A Needs and Preferences Survey [published online ahead of print, 2019 Dec 26]. Mil Med. 2019;usz422. doi:10.1093/milmed/usz422

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