Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Families of military personnel-Services for, Families of military personnel-Psychology, Iraq War, 2003-, Afghan War, 2001-, Military social work, Mixed methods research design, Exploratory study, Military veterans, Needs assessment, Stress and coping, Social media recruitment strategy, Family, Friends, Loved ones, Military deployment, Facebook, Ecological theory, Stress process theory, Afghanistan, Iraq


Purpose: U.S. military institutions define service members' loved ones as including only dependent (married) spouse and children and provide information and support services to this group. However, around 50% of active duty military service members are unmarried and have "nondependent" loved ones such as parents, siblings, significant others, and friends who cannot access any of the military-provided information and support services. The aim of this study was to document the impact of war zone deployments on the family, significant others, and friends of unmarried service members and their coping methods, and to describe the support resources needed by this group. Methods: An innovative methodology pioneering social networking media for recruitment was piloted. Original data collection tools were developed to capture the needs and perceived availability of resources; standardized protocols were employed to measure perceived stress and coping. Nonpurposive convenience sampling recruited 22 nondependent family and friends (NDFFs) of unmarried U.S. military service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan to complete a mixed methods online survey. Findings: Findings align with extant literature on military spouses and NDFFs. Participants are deeply impacted by deployment and both desire and need support in coping. Discussion: Strengthening this invisible home front has important implications not only for those left behind, but also for the adjustment of our returning combat veterans. Recommendations for addressing these complex issues and suggestions for future research are discussed.




ix, 167 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 106-114)