A Scoping Review of the Effects of Military Deployment on Reserve Component Children

By Shelby Veri · Carolyne Muthoni  · A. Suzanne Boyd  · Margaret Wilmoth

Published 4 January 2021


There are more than half a million military Reserve Component (RC) connected children, but little research has examined the effects of parental deployment on this population. Much of what is known comes from active-duty families. This paper addresses the need to better understand the effects of RC parental deployment on children and families.

This scoping review identifies four significant gaps in understanding the impact of deployment on children whose parents are in one of the RC versus those with parents on active duty. These gaps highlight a paucity of research on a force that comprises nearly 50% of the Armed Forces. Increased funding is essential so that further study can occur to better understand children’s behaviors before deployment, during deployment, and at the time of reunification. Further research is needed to identify and develop interventions to address problems highlighted in the themes including, behavioral problems in children, child anxiety and fear, role changes for the non-deployed parents/children, and support networks. It is also essential to use mixed-method approaches to understand the implications of an operational RC force on families to inform policy and programming, which will, in turn, better support them during periods of prolonged active duty service and enhance recruitment retention.


George Mason University Study

Army recruiters have for years attracted new recruits by emphasizing the educational and leadership development skills an army experience provides. No one, however, had taken a good look at how the army affected women. The Army Women’s Foundation, in partnership with George Mason University, initiated a research study exploring the economic and social impact of women’s service in the Army. This information documents how women have benefited from their military service. Click here to download the results from the study.

This study was made possible through a bequest from the estate of Sergeant Major Julia Bennett, an African-American woman who retired in 1986 after 28 years of army service. SGM Bennett epitomized the findings of this study, that an army career gives many women opportunities that would not otherwise be available in a civilian career.

The study began with a questionnaire distributed to approximately 1,500 members of the Army Women’s Foundation. The responses to this survey became the “Pilot Project” and served as the basis for future and expanded studies. The questionnaire addressed specific factual questions regarding how the respondents had benefited from military service.

While only 300 responses were required to make the study statistically valid, over 600 questionnaires were returned. The quality and depth of the responses was extremely illuminating for the researchers. The program was supported by the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representative, Virginia State Legislature, the Department of Defense and the Department of Labor.