The impact of military life experiences, including deployment, on the health and well-being of service members and the potential consequences for mental and physical illnesses and injuries has been well documented.

Less well understood are the consequences of military life stress on the spouses and children of military personnel. Considerable research indicates that families are resilient, but it is also clear that family dynamics and overall well-being can significantly impact service members.

To better understand this critical interdependency, more research is needed about the relationship of military experiences to spouse and child health, and overall family functioning.


Families are a force multiplier, directly and indirectly impacting the readiness of individual service members. Improved understanding of the impact of military service on family members’ health and well-being is critical for developing effective interventions, providing resources and support, building resilience, and reducing stress.


  • Assess the impact of military service and deployment on family health through longitudinal research.


In 2011, the Millennium Cohort Study, the largest population-based study in military history, began voluntary enrollment of spouses from all services. Participants are asked to complete a baseline questionnaire followed by one survey every three years for the next 21 years, even if their spouse separates from service or their relationship status changes.

Study population:

  • 9,921 spouses of Millennium Cohort Study service member participants have enrolled in the Family Study since 2011.


  • The Family Study is the first of its kind to follow a large, population-based cohort of military spouses to assess the long-term impact of military service and deployment on the health of military families
  • 89% of participants are younger than 35.
  • Male spouses make up 12% of participants.
  • 63% of participants have children.
  • The active duty spouses of 74% of participants have deployed.
  • 3% of participants represent Reserve and National Guard families


  • The Family Study is a DoD-sponsored study designed by a multidisciplinary team of investigators at the Naval Health Research Center, Abt Associates, Duke University and New York University.
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