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BACKGROUND

There are approximately 1.5 million children age 18 years or younger with a parent in the U.S. military, of whom over one quarter are adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 years. Adolescence may be a particularly sensitive period of development for military-connected youth given the vast biological, physical, and social changes that occur during the backdrop of their parent’s military career. The overarching objective of this study is to assess the potential impacts of military life on adolescents’ psychosocial adjustment and physical health, academic achievement, and educational/career aspirations, and to identify risk and protective factors that may promote or inhibit positive outcomes among adolescents and their families.

 

VALUE

The first generation of military youth born during the post-9/11 conflicts are currently making career decisions, including plans to join the military. This study will assist the Department of Defense in outlining future strategic goals for programs and services to address the needs of military-connected adolescents and their families as well as provide data to better understand the health and well-being of the next generation of potential service members.

GOALS

The aims of this study are (1) to examine the direct association of military exposures such as permanent change of station moves, parental separations, and injury on adolescents’ health and well-being; (2) to examine the indirect association of military exposures with adolescents’ health and well-being based on the exposures’ impact on parents’ relationship quality, parent–adolescent relationship quality, and parenting behaviors; and (3) to identify the most salient modifiable risk and protective factors that may explain differences in adolescents’ health and well-being. Results from this study will be used to inform programs and policies benefiting military-connected youth and their families.


 

METHOD

SOAR is a cross-sectional research study of military-connected adolescents and their parents utilizing online survey data merged with medical data for those participants who volunteer to join the study. The study will enroll military-connected adolescents (11–17 years old) of parents who have participated in the Millennium Cohort Study of service members and veterans, representing all armed service branches and active duty, Reserve, and National Guard components. Adolescents and their parents will be asked to complete online surveys that will take approximately 30 minutes to complete, and each participant will receive a $10 electronic gift card at the end of their survey as a token of appreciation for their time. Participation in this study is voluntary.

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