Sam Hesler and WNYT Staff
Updated: March 16, 2021 05:24 PM
Created: March 16, 2021 12:45 PM
As the U.S. continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are looking into how it has impacted the mental health and financial stability on active-duty service members and their families.
For many active-duty military families, life has often been a series of stress tests.
"I think for the military-connected individuals, they are tested time and time again, right. It happens, it's with deployment," said Rosalinda Vasquez Maury, director of applied research and analytics at the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families.
"Certainly one can say they've been preparing for COVID during this time, and you'll certainly find that," she said. "I don't want to say everyone is doing fantastic though, because they're not.
Findings from a report titled "Resilience Under Stress Study" indicate some groups may be feeling the impact more than others, especially in an economic sense.
It found 23% of Black respondents say COVID-19 had a major impact on financial situations, compared to 10% of White respondents.
In terms of impact on employment, particularly for spouses of military members, 32% of Black respondents reported severe impacts, compared to 22% of Whites.
The pandemic has also had an impact on mental health. The report found nearly a quarter of active duty families believe the pandemic has had "major" or "severe" impacts on their overall happiness, and 21% say it's impacted their personal mental health.
One of the biggest differences is among men and women, with 22% of women saying the pandemic has had major impacts to mental health, compared to 17% of men.
One researcher says a fear of having their service member penalized because of seeking help for mental health may be a contributing factor.
"I think there needs to be more resources made available outside military installations and service providers, it probably will add to the level of comfort and confidentiality," Rosalinda Vasquez Maury said.
In Albany County, the Mental Health Support Line is available seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for those who may be struggling with anxiety or depression during the pandemic. Please call (518) 269-6634.
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