• Desert Storm;
  • families;
  • trauma;
  • war;
  • deployment


Because the war was relatively brief, casualties relatively light, and the Nation sanctioned the war socially, veterans of Desert Shield/Storm and their families were not anticipated to suffer symptoms of trauma or re-entry stress beyond that expected in routine peacetime military deployments. However, the authors argue that the stress imposed on families by Desert Shield/Storm was not analogous to that of routine deployments. The call to duty was unexpected, disruptive, and “hazardous” (i.e., highly dangerous) which places it in the category of a “catastrophic” stressor as defined by McCubbin and Figley (1983). The deployment was a call to war, which creates unique stress beyond those experienced during peacetime deployments. The deployment also carried with it prolonged “anticipation of trauma.” For these reasons, the authors argue, the deployment to Desert Shield/Storm created a situation of “family trauma” for veterans and their families. Suggestions are offered for education, prevention and treatment for families undergoing unexpected wartime military deployments.