“What’s Next?” Military Families Deal with Anxiety and Stress from Continued Uncertainty


A new study released this month finds uncertainty makes people more stressed than knowing for sure something bad is coming. Of course, everyone deals with some degree of uncertainty in their lives—we can’t control traffic and weather. But what happens when that “something bad” is much more serious… much more life-changing and impactful?

When an U.S. Osprey went down almost two weeks ago off Australia’s coast with 26 service members on board… what were the families of those service members going through? Shielding their children from news reports and silently, relentlessly praying that their loved one is alive? Jumping out of their skin each time the phone rang or there was a knock at the door, terrified of the message on the other end?

The lead author of the recent study on uncertainty says it’s “difficult for the brain because it makes it hard to figure out what to do [and] what decisions to make.”

This is exactly what Lyndy, an Air Force spouse who recently moved her family of four across the country to a new duty station, recently described. She spent months in a hotel room, working from her laptop to maintain her job duties, and just recently moved to a small apartment until their house is ready in another month. Her four kids will soon begin new schools, join new sports teams, and make new friends (they hope—more uncertainty).

“I’ve literally had my life turned upside down. I’m trying to find something I can control, and hold onto and be sane,” Lyndy said describing her current state of affairs.

Trying to find something to hold onto in a world of “what’s next?” is a common theme for military families.

Amanda, an Army spouse and mother of 3, is juggling a full-time job plus all family duties during her husband’s 9-month deployment to Afghanistan. Stationed in Texas, her closest family members are thousands of miles away. When her husband was in Alaska for a weekend… she packed up all 3 kids and made the trek because that was one certainty. They could see their dad—their hero–for that one weekend.

While military families continue to sacrifice, their civilian peers and counterparts still struggle to understand today’s military family. Our nation’s families are tired of the uncertainty… constantly worried about their loved ones while trying to hold it together on the homefront.

It has been 16 years since September 11, 2001… yet nearly 300,000 service members are currently deployed, many still fighting a war that started that day.

Families are dealing with their third, fourth, and fifth deployments and worry what one more will do to their lives. Each time a service member leaves… uncertainty. When they come home… more uncertainty. How will that mother, father, husband or wife who has been away so long fit into a family forced to go on without them.

With so many uncertainties looming for our nation’s service members and their families, we know one thing that you can help with: support and encouragement. Do you know a military family in your church or neighborhood? Reach out and offer a helping hand in a way that makes sense for them. Offer to babysit, mow a yard, cook a hot dinner, wash a car. Not sure how to help? Consider a donation to the National Military Family Association. We make it our mission to strengthen and support military families around the world as they stand behind their loved one in uniform.

Are you a military family? How do you explain the constant worry and uncertainty to your friends and family who might not understand what you go through? 

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  1. 1
    Johnna

    Here is the worst part….when the family collapses, due to total lack of support by DOD and the VA, the “Family” is civilian, despite their many years of support; therefore, they learn very quickly their lives didn’t before nor matter now. Their is not transitional help for IPV or Domestic Violence survivors or their children really. They are ostracized by the Veteran/Military Spouse Communities abandoned at their greatest time of need, not unlike the Active and Retired Caregivers of our Military Veterans. Who is actually there when the caregiver collapses or dies (due to natural causes or suicide)? They don’t even track Military/Veteran Spouse or Child Suicide, yet Domestic Violence is up 177% in Military Families in the last ten years. We are outraged by Vegas Massacres, the prospect of 22 soldiers dying everyday, yet 1-3 Woman face/die daily due to Domestic Violence in this nation and no one bats an eye 🙁 Unemployment rate for Military Spouses is 4X higher than the National average, so when abandoned and homeless to these numbers improve? Homelessness is happening to Woman and Children in our Military/Veteran Communities continues to go unnoticed or unacknowledged. You only need to read the lives of Spouses/Caregivers, Wives of Soldiers with PTSD, and others on a Facebook Groups to see the daily pain and anguish, not to mention the Anxiety Disorders due to the multiple years of hyper-vigilance developed over 24/7 attention to their soldiers illness and the impacts to them, our children, and if we are lucky we have time to consider ourselves. Most times we do not. We are praise for being resilient, but are we really? Or are we only surviving the best we can in every different circumstance we each face on a daily basis, despite our best intentions. If we are luck we get to take a break to breath, but for many this is not an option, but merely a dream. Would it be the culture in the Military and the utter disregard for woman that makes us unworthy of acknowledgement? Sadly it is not just woman in families, but female soldiers as well. How many of us have to die? What would be the number that would be an acceptable ratio by the Military to be acknowledged as human beings, but even worse “Americans” whom they pretend to protect….yet not at Home 🙁

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