Date of Award
Master of Social Work (MSW)
Dr. Susan M. Watt
Military families face a unique lifestyle that brings with it a series of stressors not experienced by the general civilian population. These include frequent moves, adjusting to the military subculture, and family separations. Family separations are especially stressful, as military spouses and parents are deployed for peacetime missions and training. However, the resilience and strengths-based literature has shown that most families are able to successfully cope with adversity. Further, structural changes to the military and family environment can increase family resilience. This is the crux of 'Occupational Social Work' in the military wherein lies the responsibility to baiance the needs of the individual, families, or other groups, with the needs of the military. In addition, policy development that is informed by research needs to form a significant part of 'Occupational Social Work' practice. This thesis is an exploratory work to further Occupational Social Work knowledge and practice and to stimulate further research on the effects of deployments on military families. This study also examines how Canadian military families cope with the deployment of their spouses by utilizing the Deployment Resilience Scale created by Major Adrian Van Breda on the South African Defence Force and by engaging in personal interviews in an attempt to explore family resilience in the Canadian military, and the usefulness of the Deployment Resilience Scale as a predictive tool. Findings show that, overall, Canadian military families have an average level of resilience. The area of lowest resilience appeared in family 'financial preparation' and military 'family-oriented management'. Military social workers need to be alert to potential difficulties with military deployments on the individual, family, and organizational levels. Historically military families relied on each other, friends and neighbours for support, usually only in dire circumstances. Currently, it appears that military families rely more on military formal and informal services, however, dissatisfaction with the gaps in service, and the military system of service delivery may be a indication that families are moving away from the 'rugged individual' ethos. It appears that military families acknowledge the mutually interdependent relationship between families and the military as an employer. Military occupational social workers need to encourage a healthy balance between employer and employees by using an ecological, strengths based resiliency model of practice, and by developing appropriate assessment tools to track progress and identify areas of both health and concern.
Dieryck, Irene, "CANADIAN MILITARY FAMILIES: SEPARATION RESILIENCE AND PEACETIME DEPLOYMENTS" (2003). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3906.