The State of Military Families in Canada: A Scoping Review

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Manser, Lynda
Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) , Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services , Demographics , Family Relations , Financial Stress , Intimate Partner Relationships , Lifestyle , Mental Health , Military Challenges , Military Family , Military Personnel , Military Relocations , Resilience , Services Available
For some families, the military way of life fosters close social support networks and adaptability. For others, the stresses and strains resulting from military operational requirements are challenging. Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services reviewed the most recent Canadian research to detail the issues currently facing Canadian military families. Methods: The scoping review yielded 72 articles and reports. Additionally, exclusive demographic data on family members were analyzed using data compiled by Chief Force Development. Results: Of the 72 Canadian articles, 53 were published within the past 5 years. These were organized thematically into categories, including demographics, common military lifestyle challenges, common family transitional challenges, and family resiliency. Discussion: Canadian military families commonly face three military journey challenges and three family journey challenges: geographical relocations due to postings; absences from family due to operational tempo; operational illness, injury, or death; personal well-being and mental health; financial stress; and intimate partner relationships. The majority of families are resilient and manage these challenges successfully; only a small percentage struggle. For those who struggle, access to systems of care and supports could enhance their resilience to manage these transitional challenges. Overall participation rates in programs and services are currently low, but the majority of those who used them perceived that they were helpful. For families to experience a stabilized family life in the face of military challenges, they need to be aware of, and able to advocate for services that are available and aligned with when, where and how they need them.