Military spouses of service members face unique stressors. They often cope with multiple deployments, frequent moves, long separations and concerns about their loved one’s future. Many times they even have to manage a household and family alone. These realities of military life can take a toll on military spouses and impact the entire family. Children often take their emotional cues from their parents, so a parent’s anxiety can result in a stressful environment for the entire household. That is why it is important to address concerns as early as possible.
Having a strong support network is one way military spouses can cope with stress. Peer support groups and programs can help military spouses connect with others just like them. They can also help spouses know that they are not alone when dealing with stress as a result of military life.
Benefits of Peer Support
Connecting with peers can help improve your quality of life, promote wellness and build resiliency. Your friends and peers often know you better than anyone else. They may notice changes in you that you may not recognize and help you seek the support you need. Talking with peers who have gone through and overcome similar situations can also make it easier to understand problems and find solutions. Your peers may have valuable tips or resources that they can share to help you cope with any doubt or confusion you may be experiencing. These may include how to:
Talk to your children about transitions
Stay connected with your spouse during deployment
Take care of yourself while supporting your service member
When looking for a support network, it is important to find people you can connect with on a personal level. Surrounding yourself with people who are coping with the same challenges can help you combat feelings of stress and isolation. These shared experiences are the basis for peer support and can make it easier to build trust and friendship.
Whether it’s part of a formal program or a casual gathering among friends, peer support groups can help provide a sense of community for military spouses. Websites like the National Resource Directory and Military OneSource can help you find support groups for military spouses in your community. Each branch of the military also has Family Readiness Groups that provide a forum for developing friendships, sharing experiences and providing information.
Visit these service-specific resources to find a Family Readiness Group near you:
Online Support Networks
Even if you can’t find an in-person support group to join, you can still connect with your peers online. You can use the campaign's social media Facebook and Twitter channels to talk to other military spouses and form support groups online.
Reaching Out for Help is a Sign of Strength
We all need people who can help support us through life’s many challenges. Reaching out to your peers for help is a sign of strength that can help build resilience and create long-lasting friendships. Call the Psychological Health Resource Center at 866-966-1020. You can confidentially speak with a trained health resource consultant or use their live chat 24/7.
Many local, national and federal organizations offer support services for military spouses and families including:
Building a Personal Support Network. Retrieved April 16, 2014, from http://www.militaryonesource.mil/phases-single-life?content_id=268643