WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Helping Military Families After Deployment

Apr 5, 2021

Researchers are finding that some military families begin experiencing difficulties about four or five weeks after a family member returns home from deployment.

That research will be the subject of this year’s Thompson Lecture hosted by the Department of Communication at Western Illinois University. The lecture begins at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7. It is open to the public and can be joined via Zoom.

Leanne Knobloch, a Communication Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will deliver the presentation. She participated in the research.

“In the past ten years or so I’ve been studying how military couples communicate across the deployment cycle because it’s a way that I can use my expertise to help the men and women who serve our country so generously every day,” Knobloch said.

She said families often go through a “honeymoon” period when they’re first reunited.

“But then over time, the everyday stressors and strains start to come into play in their daily routines. And so that’s what we think is causing some turmoil in their relationships,” she said.

The studies involved families from all branches of the military. She said the U.S. Department of Defense funded the research.

“All of our data go back to the department to help inform policy and practice,” Knobloch said. In addition, the findings are shared with chaplains, military family support groups, and others, “So that the information is helping the people that it’s designed to help.”

She said research in this area has a long history and is growing. “But with the changing landscape of society and different kinds of conflicts, we continue to need this research so that we can tailor our recommendations to the specific problems that military couples and families might be facing.”

Knobloch also said the current research checked in with families on a monthly basis, whereas earlier studies went longer between check-ins. So the latest findings shed light on when it might be a good time to be working with couples. She said the latest studies also look at mental health issues and dynamics within the relationship.

Knobloch was scheduled to give the Thompson Lecture a year ago but it was postponed due to the pandemic.

According to a news release from WIU, “The Wayne N. Thompson Lecture is named to honor WIU alumnus Wayne Thompson, who was a former professor of speech communication. An endowment in his name helps sponsor a number of department programs to enhance learning and scholarship in the field of communication, including this lecture by a prominent scholar in the field.”

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