Reservist families and their understanding of military welfare support as a (non)military family

Vincent Connelly*, Sarah Hennelly, Nicola Fear, Zoe Morrison, Rachael Gribble, Joanna Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Many nations rely on volunteer reservists willing to train in their spare time and deploy on military operations. This willingness is influenced by familial support. The authors sought to better understand the expectations of, and experiences with, welfare support to UK reservist families for routine training and deployment. Methods: A bespoke survey for family members of reservists was constructed to investigate awareness, use, and experience of both routine and deployment-related welfare support; 140 family members participated. In addition, 33 semi-structured interviews were conducted and deductively coded. Most participants in the survey and interviews were spouses and parents of part-time reservists. Results: The survey and interviews reported low awareness and use of available family welfare services. Most participants did not know how to access support, even during deployment, and had inconsistent local experiences of welfare support. There was a desire for more welfare information and personal contact with unit welfare staff. The key role of the reservist as a barrier or facilitator of information was highlighted. Discussion: Most families of reservists do not identify as military families, have low awareness of family support and welfare, and do not require routine access to support. This contributes to an under-used family welfare and support system that also suffers from localized unit variation. More access to information online, more contact with better trained welfare staff, and increased reservist awareness of welfare and support should reduce inconsistencies and improve family satisfaction and reservist retention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-62
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Military, Veteran and Family Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • deployment
  • family
  • military family
  • reservist
  • reservist family
  • support
  • welfare


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