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Defining Military Families

Defining Military Families

The Department of Defense (DoD) defines a military family as a spouse, child, and any other dependent who meets the legal definition of family. Those who qualify as legal dependents are eligible for military benefits, but this does not preclude the importance of other significant relationships or extended family members. Military families often face the same challenges as non-military families—from raising children and managing finances to caring for extended family members. In addition, military families face challenging situations that are unique due to the roles and responsibilities of military personnel, and these situations affect the service members’ relationships with their families.

Families of military personnel are immersed in military culture. Family members engage in and adhere to military culture’s norms, behaviors, and language just as much as military personnel. Military families are connected in many ways, and military culture can promote resilience among these families. Understanding how elements of military culture can help promote resilience is critical knowledge in your role as a helping professional working with military families.


For this Discussion, you discuss the nature of military families including the non-normative stressors that a military family may face. You also address protective factors in military culture that support resiliency.

Post one word that you might use to describe military families and explain why this word is a good descriptor. Then, identify one non-normative stressor that military families may experience (excluding PCS/deployment). Describe one way this stressor impacts the family unit, the marital/significant other relationship, and relationships with extended families. Finally, explain one way that military culture supports resiliency. Support your response with the current literature and/or the resources.



Blaisure, K. R., Saathoff-Wells, T., Pereira, A., MacDermid Wadsworth, S., & Dombro, A. L. (2016). Serving military families (2nd ed.). New York: NY: Routledge.


Chapter 6, “Individual and Family Development in the Military” (pp. 129-159)

Chapter 11, “Policies and Programs that Support Military Families” (pp. 259-285)

Cozza, S. J., Holmes, A. K., & VanOst, S. L. (2013). Family-centered care for military and veteran families affected by combat injury. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16(3), 311-321.


DeVoe, E. R., & Ross, A. (2012). The parenting cycle of deployment. Military Medicine, 177(2), 184–190.


Lara-Cinisomo, S., Chandra A., Burns, R. M., Jaycox, L. H., Tanielian, T., Ruder, T., & Han, B. (2012). A mixed-method approach to understanding the experiences of non-deployed military caregivers. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 16(2), 374–384.


Military One Source. (2013). Parenting: Family resilience protective factors. Retrieved from


Case Study



Working With Domestic Violence in the Military: The Case of Mark and Sofia (PDF)


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