Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 459–473 | Cite as

Do Secondary Trauma Symptoms in Spouses of Combat-Exposed National Guard Soldiers Mediate Impacts of Soldiers’ Trauma Exposure on Their Children?

  • Joseph R. Herzog
  • R. Blaine Everson
  • James D. Whitworth
Article

Abstract

This exploratory study examines the associated effects of combat exposure on Soldiers assigned to a Midwestern Army National Guard unit. It also explores the secondary and mediating effects of combat exposure on Soldier’s spouses and children. The correlations of combat exposure with trauma symptoms, substance abuse, domestic violence and secondary trauma symptoms among family members are identified. Survey results suggest that immediate family members of combat-exposed Soldiers with high levels of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at risk for developing secondary traumatic stress. Secondary trauma symptoms in these spouses are a risk-increasing mediating variable between trauma symptoms in combat-exposed Soldiers and secondary trauma symptoms in their children. Results from this investigation emphasize the need for further inquiry into this topic. They further highlight the need for preventive and treatment efforts targeted toward all family members and relationships in order to lessen the effects of combat exposure.

Keywords

Secondary trauma National Guard Military families Mediating variable PTSD Military children 

References

  1. Achenbach, T., & Rescorla, L. (2001). Manual for the ASEBA school-age forms and profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families.Google Scholar
  2. Arzi, N. B., Solomon, Z., & Dekel, R. (2000). Secondary traumatization among wives of PTSD and post-concussion casualties: Distress, caregiver burden, and psychological separation. Brain Injury, 14(8), 725–736.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baron, R., & Kenny, D. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical consideration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1173–1182.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bastiaens, L., Riccardi, K., & Sakhrani, D. (2002). The RAFFT as a screening tool for adult substance use disorders. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 28(4), 681–691.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blanchard, E., Jones-Alexander, J., Buckley, T., & Forneris, C. (1996). Psychometric properties of the PTSD checklist. Behavior Research and Therapy, 34(8):669–673.Google Scholar
  6. Bliese, P. D., Wright, K. M., Adler, A. B., Cabrera, O., Castrol, C. A., & Hoge, C. W. (2008). Validating the primary care posttraumatic stress disorder screen and the posttraumatic stress disorder checklist with soldiers returning from combat. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76, 272–281.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caselli, L., & Motta, R. (1995). The effect of PTSD and combat level on Vietnam veterans’ perceptions of child behavior and marital adjustment. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51(1), 4–12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cozza, S., Chun, R., & Polo, J. (2005). Military families and children during operation Iraqi freedom. Psychiatric Quarterly, 76(4), 371–378.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dansby, V., & Marinelli, R. (1999). Adolescent children of Vietnam combat veteran fathers: A population at risk. Journal of Adolescence, 22, 329–340.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Daud, A., Skoglund, E., & Rydelius, P. (2005). Children in families of torture victims: Transgenerational transmission of parents’ traumatic experiences to their children. International Journal of Social Welfare, 14, 23–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deblinger, E., Mannarino, A., Cohen, J., Runyon, M., & Steer, R. (2011). Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for children: Impact of the trauma narrative and treatment length. Depression and Anxiety, 28(1), 67–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dekel, R., Solomon, Z., & Bleich, A. (2005). Emotional distress and marital adjustment of caregivers: Contribution of level in impairment and appraised burden. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 18(1), 71–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Del Valle, L., & Avelo, J. (1996). Perception of post traumatic stress disorder symptoms by children of Puerto Rican Vietnam veterans. Puerto Rico Health Science Journal, 15(2), 101–106.Google Scholar
  14. Dirkzwager, A., Bramensen, I., Ader, H., & van der Ploeg, H. (2005). Secondary traumatization in partners and parents of Dutch peacekeeping soldiers. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(2), 217–226.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Doyle, M., & Peterson, K. (2005). Re-entry and reintegration: Returning home after combat. Psychiatric Quarterly, 76(4), 361–370.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Everson, B., & Figley, C. (2010). Families under fire: Systemic therapy with military families. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Figley, C. (1983). Catastrophes: An overview of family reactions. In C. Figley & H. McCubbin (Eds.), Stress and the family (pp. 3–20). New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  18. Hendrix, C., Jurich, A., & Schumm, W. (1995). Long-term impact of Vietnam war service on family environment and satisfaction. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 76(8), 498–506.Google Scholar
  19. Herzog, J., & Everson, B. (2007). The crisis of parental deployment in military service. In N. Boyd Webb play therapy with children in crisis (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  20. Herzog, J., & Everson, R. (2010). Secondary traumatic stress, deployment phase, and military families: Systematic approaches to treatment. In B. Everson & C. Figley (Eds.), Families under fire: Systemic therapy with military families. Routledge: Psychological Stress Series.Google Scholar
  21. Hoge, C., Castro, C., Messer, S., McGurk, D., Cotting, D., & Koffman, R. (2005). Combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, mental health problems, and barriers to care. The New England Journal of Medicine, 351(1):13–22.Google Scholar
  22. Jouriles, E., & Norwood, W. (1995). Physical aggression towards boys and girls in families characterized by the battering of women. Journal of Family Psychology, 9(1), 69–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mansfield, A., Kaufman, J., Marshall, S., Bradley, G., Morrissey, J., & Engel, C. (2010). Deployment and the use of mental health services among U.S. army wives. New England Journal of Medicine, 362(2), 101–109.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Medway, F., Davis, K., Cafferty, T., Chappell, K., & O’Hearn, R. (1995). Family disruption and adult attachment correlates of spouse and child reactions to separation and reunion due to operation desert storm. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 14(2), 97–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mental Health Advisory Team (MHAT IV). (2006). Operation Iraqi Freedom 05–07. Washington, DC: The Office of the Surgeon Multinational Force-Iraq, and Office of the Surgeon General United States Army Medical Command. Retrieved from http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/reports/mhat/mhat_v/Redacted1-MHATV-OIF-4-FEB-2008Report.pdf.
  26. Mikulincer, M., Florian, V., & Solomon, Z. (1995). Marital intimacy, family support, and secondary traumatization: A study of wives of veterans with combat stress reactions. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 8, 203–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Motta, R., Hafeez, S., Sciancalepore, R., & Diaz, A. (2001). Discriminate validation of the Modified Secondary Trauma Questionnaire. Journal of Psychotherapy in Independent Practice, 24, 17–25.Google Scholar
  28. Motta, R., Newman, C., Lombardo, K., & Silverman, M. (2004). Objective assessment of secondary trauma. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 6(2), 67–74.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Rosenheck, R., & Nathan, P. (1985). Secondary traumatization in children of Vietnam veterans. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 36(5), 538–539.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Ruggiero, K. J., Del Ben, K., Scotti, J. R., & Rabalais, A. E. (2003). Psychometric properties of the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16, 495–502.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Shakil, A., Smith, D., Sinacore, J., & Krepcho, M. (2005). Validation of the HITS domestic violence screening tool with males. Family Medicine, 37(3):193–198.Google Scholar
  32. Shapinsky, A., Rapport, L., Henderson, M., & Axelrod, B. (2005). Civilian PTSD scales relationships with trait characteristics and everyday distress. Assessment, 12(2), 220–230.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sherin, K., Sinacore, J., Li, X., Zitter, R., & Shakil, A. (1998). HITS: A short domestic violence screening tool for use in a family practice setting. Clinical Research and Methods, 30(7), 508–512.Google Scholar
  34. Solomon, Z., Waysman, M., Levy, G., Fried, B., Mikulincer, M., Benbenishty, R., et al. (1992). From front line to home front: A study of secondary traumatization. Family Process, 31, 289–302.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tanielian, T., Jaycox, L., Schell, T., Marshall, G., Burnam, M., Eibner, C., et al. (2008). Invisible wounds of war: Summary and recommendations for addressing psychological and cognitive injuries. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.Google Scholar
  36. Waysman, M., Mikulincer, M., Solomon, Z., & Weisenberg, M. (1993). Secondary traumatization among wives of posttraumatic combat veterans: A family typology. Journal of Family Psychology, 7(1), 104–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Weathers, F., Litz, B., Herman, D., Huska, J., & Keane, T. (1993). The PTSD Checklist (PCL): Reliability, validity, and diagnostic utility. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, San Antonio, TX.Google Scholar
  38. Westerink, J., & Giaratano, L. (1999). The impact of posttraumatic stress disorder on partners and children of Australian Vietnam veterans. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 33(6), 841–847.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph R. Herzog
    • 1
  • R. Blaine Everson
    • 2
  • James D. Whitworth
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of West FloridaPensacolaUSA
  2. 2.The Samaritan Counseling Center of Northeast GeorgiaAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations