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Keywords:

  • children with special health care needs;
  • disabilities;
  • military families;
  • parenting;
  • community;
  • resiliency;
  • parent to parent support;
  • social networks

Understanding how military families who have children with special health care needs (CSHCN) successfully cope in the context of exceptional demands of the military lifestyle can inform scholarship, policy, and practice to the benefit of families. Using data from 775 female civilian parents (mothers serving as Key Spouses) married to active duty Air Force members, this study examined differences on dimensions of network support and spouse resiliency between mothers who do and do not have CSHCN, as well as the relative contribution of formal and informal network support to variation in self-reports of resiliency among mothers with CSHCN. Mothers with CSHCN experience significantly less formal and informal network support than their counterparts. Despite this, they reported equivalent overall resiliency, with lower perceived resiliency on only one of four resiliency outcomes. More formal and informal network support was generally associated with higher resilience. Implications for policy, practice, and research are discussed.