Military youth and the deployment cycle: emotional health consequences and recommendations for intervention

J Fam Psychol. 2011 Aug;25(4):497-507. doi: 10.1037/a0024534.


The United States military force includes over 2.2 million volunteer service members. Three out of five service members who are deployed or are preparing for deployment have spouses and/or children. Stressors associated with the deployment cycle can lead to depression, anxiety, and behavior problems in children, as well as psychological distress in the military spouse. Further, the emotional and behavioral health of family members can affect the psychological functioning of the military service member during the deployment and reintegration periods. Despite widespread acknowledgment of the need for emotional and behavioral health services for youth from military families, many professionals in a position to serve them struggle with how to best respond and select appropriate interventions. The purpose of this paper is to provide an empirically based and theoretically informed review to guide service provision and the development of evidence based treatments for military youth in particular. This review includes an overview of stressors associated with the deployment cycle, emotional and behavioral health consequences of deployment on youth and their caretaking parent, and existing preventative and treatment services for youth from military families. It concludes with treatment recommendations for older children and adolescents experiencing emotional and behavioral health symptoms associated with the deployment cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy
  • Community Mental Health Services / methods
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Medicine / methods
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Spouses
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy
  • United States