By Rose L. Thayer, staff writer, Fort Hood HeraldDecember 4, 2013
Researchers are looking for Army couples to participate in a survey on the impacts of deployments on their relationships.
Funded by the Defense Department, the Relationships Among Military Personnel study at University of Colorado-Denver is aimed to find out how couples cope with deployment.
"Every couple is different and they all have stories of what works for them," said Beth Allen, associate professor at the university and couples researcher. "Through the study we hope to see if there are some patterns we can find about what couples are doing to do better after deployment and over time."
The idea for the study came after Allen worked to develop the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program for the Army's Strong Bonds back in 2005. During the process, she said she realized how much is unknown about the impacts of the stress of separation and deployments on Army couples. She began to wonder if couples talk about deployment, how they talk about it and how they navigate through it all.
"We're doing good, but know we can do better," Allen said. "Part of where we think can do better is understanding empirically, are there any kinds of patterns or support that help couples weather all that turmoil better over the long term?"
Army spouse and Fort Carson, Colo.-based blogger Judy Davis joined the study as a consultant, because she supports its efforts, she said.
"One of the things that I love about the study and what they're doing is with all the multiple deployments and the residual affects they are having on families," Davis said. "I think studying now is more important than ever before because the dynamics of what's happening is changing couples' relationships."
The study is looking for 600 Army couples, comprised of male soldiers and a female civilians who recently completed deployments, to complete an online survey with up to 550 questions. Both partners must complete individual surveys and each will receive their own $50 gift card.
All answers are confidential, Allen emphasized. Findings are reported at the aggregate level and no one person is singled out.
The study is expected to take three years to complete.
"One of our goals is to take the information and continue to improve PREP for Strong Bonds," Allen said. "It'll take some time but the nice thing is that it will get back to the people using it."
Davis said she looks forward to military spouses being heard for future programs in the Army.
"Studies like this where our opinions and experiences are being equally looked at, it's so empowering for our community," she said.
To participate in the study or for more information, go to www.armycouples.com.
Note: Rose L. Thayer, author of this story, is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. This article was re-published with her permission and the permission of the Fort Hood Herald.