'Balancing Act' Stresses Reservists, General Says
(December 17, 2009)
Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Margaret Wilmoth, assistant for mobilization and reserve affairs for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, discusses reserve-component challenges, Dec. 10, 2009.
||BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 14, 2009 – Reservists face unique
challenges that may be tipping their stress level over that
of their active-duty counterparts, a health affairs official
The balancing act of multiple job requirements, coupled with
geographic isolation, combine to put a strain on the reserve
force, said Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Margaret Wilmoth,
assistant for mobilization and reserve affairs for the
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health
“Civilian employment is the highest level of stressors that
military [members] report who are in the reserves,” the
general noted last week at the Trauma Spectrum Disorders
“We are trying to juggle two careers,” she added. “How do
you meet the demand of a civilian employer who wants you 40,
50, 60 hours a week and then your reserve job?”
As a result, “The stress that a reserve-component member
feels may be even higher than that of an active-duty
member,” she said. “We don't know.”
Reservists, who make up half of the nation's
military force, deploy on a rotational basis
along with their active-duty counterparts. They
often are required to return to a civilian job
following deployment without an
opportunity to recharge, Wilmoth said. |
“When we come off active duty we may have two weeks of leave
built up ... then you're back at work,” she said. “That is not
much time to reintegrate, refresh, even deal with changing
time zones, much less demands on one's time and how one
In turn, the employer also must bear the deployment burden.
“It's important to note that we also have a civilian
employer who gets strained when we get deployed,” Wilmoth
said. Reservists also face geographic isolation because they
don't live near a military installation, she added, making
it tough for their families to obtain the support they need.
Reservists are “extremely geographically dispersed, and we
live in communities that have very little understanding of ...
what it's like to wear the uniform,” she noted.
And their children go to schools with other children “who
don't know what it's like to have mom, dad, or brother or
sister deployed,” she added.
Wilmoth also pointed out the unique challenges reserve women
“Women who are in the reserves are also juggling a civilian
job, military job, family responsibilities, and that has a
whole lot of stress for women,” she said. Women feel that
strain when they're in reserve status, she added, and also
when activated to deploy.
“Your spouse may live in California, and you're in Georgia,
and the family readiness group is meeting in Georgia,” she
said. “So who do you go to if you're that family member who
is taking care of things back home?”
It's no easier for the deployed member. “You're in theater
worrying about what's happening back home,” Wilmoth said.
“And you don't know who to reach out and touch to help
family members cope, and then coming back, all of a sudden
you're back into being the wife and the mother and the
employee if you're working.”
Wilmoth emphasized that the stress women experience,
particularly in the reserve components, needs to be more
heavily addressed. She also called for research that
explores the impact of service on reserve-component
“There's a lot we don't know for our reserve components,”
Article and photo by Elaine Wilson|
American Forces Press Service
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