October 2018

Military Cultural Roadblocks

Woman reading road map

Driving onto a military base is like driving into another world. You can’t get in without going through security. The base is a community unto itself with restaurants, banks, post office, stores, schools, day care centers, theatres, gyms, and much more. In fact, it’s possible for a military family to never go to local stores or use community resources because the base has everything they need. Military families also rely upon one another and function as a family since they share similar experiences and lives. The military culture builds on being part of a group and not an individual. The military mission or unit’s goals supersede individual goals. The military has its own language, rules, regulations and protocols that shape the service member and their families. They learn to discipline their words and actions, control their emotions and focus on what they need to accomplish. Let’s explore some caregiver issues/concerns where the military culture can create roadblocks.

Getting help can have multiple roadblocks for the caregiver including not knowing military terminology, especially if the caregiver is new to military life. Military language can be confusing and takes a while to understand. On top of that each military branch has terms specific for job title, position, location, services, time, resources plus moral codes (U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2014, Kuehner, 2013). A caregiver must recognize and understand these new terms and acronyms so he/she can function in the military world while finding supports and services needed for his/her service member, themselves and other family members.

The service member’s commander can also be a roadblock for the service member getting help. The rank of a service member identifies who they report to and their responsibilities. Their commander is an unofficial member of the family. He/she is responsible for making sure the service member is trained, has the equipment they need, and monitors every aspect of the service member’s life. This includes making sure an ill or wounded service member is getting enough sleep, eating well, going to medical appointments and following the doctor’s orders. Problems emerge when the commander, caregiver and service member are not all working toward the same goals. If they aren’t truthful with each other, have unrealistic expectations or aren’t willing to work together then life will become more difficult especially for the caregiver. The caregiver is an unofficial member of the military so is affected by its culture often leading to stress.

Written by:
Mary Brintnall-Peterson, Ph.D
MBP Consulting, LLC
Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin – Extension

Continue reading Military Cultural Road Blocks.


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