Date of Award
Doctor of Nursing Practice Final Manuscript
Doctor of Nursing Practice
Martha G. Fuller, PhD
Donna Agan, EdD
Introduction: The death of a child is a devastating tragedy. Evidence demonstrates a link between bereavement and increased mortality risks and decrements in physical and mental health. Factors are compounded in active-duty service members through arduous duty environments, deployments, relocations, and inadequate support systems.
Methods: A focused literature search of bereavement specifically concentrated on child loss and the sequela on survivor mental health and functioning was conducted. The quality of the evidence was assessed using the Melnyk Evidence-Based Practice Model. The Evidence-Based Public Health Model was used as a guide for policy development.
Evidence-Based Intervention: Draft a military parental bereavement leave policy that can be implemented in the military setting.
Findings: The loss of a child increases the risk of suicide, mental health disorders, substance abuse, disability, psychiatric hospitalization, and overall mortality for survivors. After the death of a child, parents experienced rates of prolonged grief and/or complicated grief ranging from 10%-94% and rates of post-traumatic stress disorder ranging from 0.6%-39%. Despite evidence demonstrating that service members experiencing losses are more susceptible to clinically impairing grief reactions, there are no bereavement leave policies in the military.
Conclusions: Policymakers must recognize the consequences of ineffective family bereavement and consider the adverse effects on the operational capabilities of service members. Granting two weeks of non-chargeable bereavement leave to active-duty personnel after an immediate family death should be standard practice. Military service branches have a responsibility to address family-friendly policies, including those surrounding bereavement to ensure optimal force readiness.
Digital USD Citation
Urbieta, Dehussa, "Family Bereavement Implications for Military Personnel: A Policy Proposal" (2021). Doctor of Nursing Practice Final Manuscripts. 159.
Copyright held by the author