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An Exploration of the Coming Home Process for Military Couples

10 December 2018


This study aimed to understand the lived experience of the military couple during post-deployment through a qualitative lens. Participants were either service members of any branch of the United States military or a partner of a service member. The service member and partner must have experienced a deployment while cohabitating at some point in time following September 11, 2001. All participants completed an online qualitative survey. The qualitative approach used to analyze the data was interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The data were analyzed for themes which were identified as fitting within 4 domains: strengths, challenges, family beliefs/practices, and social support. The themes identified within these domains is as follows: 1) Strengths: Adaptability, flexibility, patience, support; 2) Challenges: Family roles and personal growth; 3) Family beliefs/practices: Rhythms, equality, time; and 4) Social support: Church, peers, family. One theme, communication, did not fit within a single domain but rather spanned across several. The information gathered in this study helped to reveal what kinds of strengths service members and their partners possessed and how these strengths aided them in navigating post deployment. The data gathered in this study can be useful to various groups, including civilians who work with military families, military command structures, and policy makers who influence deployment tempos and military family relocation.


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