Introduction: The emotional, cognitive, and behavioral health of the nearly two million children of military service members in the United States is important as these children play an integral role in the operational readiness of the armed forces. For example, when a service member’s child experiences psychosocial difficulties, these difficulties often impact the service member’s personal well-being and ability to focus at work, impairing the service member’s ability to focus on the mission. Although military service members and their families (e.g., children and spouses) face many of the same stressors as their civilian counterparts, they also experience additional stressors related to being a military family, including frequent relocation, unpredictable schedule changes, short- and long-term family separation, and threats to service members’ safety. Psychosocial functioning and resilience to stress may be influenced by a variety of factors. One important factor that influences parent and child functioning is community support. Community support may be especially important for military families because of the increased significance of social support during stress such as deployment and geographic relocation. Research is promising regarding the protective effects of community support in civilian populations. However, there is a comparable dearth in the literature regarding military families and no validated measures designed specifically to assess the construct of community support in military families. We therefore aimed to develop and examine a new measure, the Community Assessment of Military Perceived Support (CAMPS) and examine its potential relationship with the psychosocial functioning of military parents and their children. Materials and Methods: The CAMPS was developed and initially tested with both quantitative and qualitative methods. The CAMPS was then used to examine the relationships among perceived community support and child/parent psychosocial symptoms. This cross-sectional correlational study was conducted in a sample of military parents with children between the ages of 2 and 18 years of age who completed an online, anonymous survey. Results: One hundred and fifty-seven military parents completed the CAMPS. Internal consistency was excellent (α = 0.94). More community support as measured by the CAMPS was associated with fewer child and parent psychosocial symptoms (p < 0.01) and the relationship between perceived military community support and child well-being was mediated by parent well-being (95% confidence interval [−0.19, −0.04]). Together, parent psychosocial functioning and perceived military community support explained 24% of the variance in child psychosocial functioning. Conclusion: The CAMPS is an internally consistent measure that appears to be associated with military parent and child psychosocial functioning. Given the importance of military community support, the CAMPS may have potential as a tool for outcome research and program evaluation. Future research is required to validate the CAMPS in a larger, more diverse military sample. Moreover, longitudinal studies are needed to determine the directionality of the relationship between community military support and psychosocial functioning.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health