September 17, 2013
Many studies have examined the impact of deployment on military families, but few have assessed either the challenges that guard and reserve families face following deployment or how they manage the reintegration phase of the deployment cycle. This report aims to facilitate the successful reintegration of guard and reserve personnel as they return to civilian life after deployment. Using surveys and interviews with guard and reserve families, along with interviews with resource providers, this report examines how these families fare after deployment, the challenges they confront during that time frame, and the strategies and resources they use to navigate the reintegration phase. Factors associated with reintegration success include the adequacy of communication between families and the service member's unit or Service and between service members and their families, initial readiness for deployment, family finances, and whether the service member returns with a psychological issue or physical injury. Successful reintegration from the families' perspective was related to measures of military readiness, such as the service members' plans to continue guard or reserve service. In addition, there is a wide-ranging and complex "web of support" available to assist families with reintegration, including U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) programs, state and local government agencies, private nonprofit and for-profit resource providers, faith-based organizations, and informal resources (such as family, friends, and social networks). Opportunities for collaboration among providers abound. DoD does not have to "do it all," but the report suggests steps it can take to ensure that reintegration proceeds as smoothly as possible.