A federally funded, landmark, never been done before study is examining military loss and grief through direct interviews with adult and child survivors.
The study, which you can read about in this story on Military.com, goes way beyond just looking at how military-connected family members emotionally handle the loss of their service member due to combat death. This study is examining all kinds of death including disease, suicide. homicide and training deaths. And it’s not just focusing on parents and spouses. They want anyone who is related to a service member — including children, stepchildren, siblings, ex-spouses, and legal guardians.
And it’s not just interviews and questionnaires. Researchers are also collecting saliva samples to test whether or not how people grieve is connected to any specific genetic markers.
Talk about inclusive.
Participants are asked to fill out an application on the study’s website. If chosen to participate they then will participate in a series of interviews and questionnaires. A third, final level is the saliva sample.
They are also warned that participating can be an emotional experience.
One Gold Star mother, whose son was killed in combat in 2009, told me that doing the interview with the researcher was very difficult for her because it brought back all the emotions of her son’s death, she said. She did the initial interview but declined to do a follow-up or the saliva sample.
But for her participating was worth it because, she said, she hopes the the study’s findings, which won’t be released until 2017 according to the story, end up helping other families walk through their grief.
That’s what the researchers hope for, too. According to their website, they are looking for the findings to be used by policy makers as they consider the best ways to assist those dealing with military death.
If you want to participate in the study, they are still accepting applicants. You can find out more here.