The Catholic University of America

July 13, 2009

Nursing Professor to Study Effect of Deployment on Mothers in the Military

Janice Griffin Agazio

Janice Griffin Agazio, assistant professor of nursing at Catholic University, has been awarded a $102,815 grant by the TriService Nursing Research Program to study the deployment of military mothers.

During the two-year study titled "Deployment of Military Mothers during Wartime," Agazio will interview women with children under the age of 12 about being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and how it affected them and their children.

In 2008, 72,367 women with children served in active duty and 54,924 mothers were in the reserves, according to the Department of Defense Manpower Data Center. "Hopefully, the results will detail some of the challenges (of military mothers) but also more positively help women meet those challenges," said Agazio, a retired Army lieutenant colonel.

Nalini Jairath, dean of CUA's School of Nursing, noted the importance of the study given the large number of mothers who serve in the military, the dangers faced by soldiers who are deployed and the potential impact of separation on mothers and their children. "The true experts are the mothers and children, and a special feature of Dr. Agazio's research is that she is allowing mothers to have their voices heard," Jairath said. "The research also has implications for the civilian sector and for nursing theory development," she said.

The study originated after many of the military nurses Agazio interviewed in previous research talked extensively about family issues. "Some of them would get tearful talking about leaving their children," Agazio said. "It got me thinking: What was that like?"

Agazio will be looking for strategies that military women successfully employ to manage separation from their children, including how they prepare children for their departure, how they communicate with their children while deployed, how they preserve the mother-child bond while they are gone and how they restore their relationship when they return home. Agazio also will be asking women, officers as well as enlisted personnel across all military branches, to describe the effects of a deployment on themselves and their children.

"Research has been done in terms of separation, but it's usually the man - the dad - who has gone away. There's very little on mothers," Agazio said.

"I want to talk with mothers who have been deployed about how things transpired - what kind of issues came up, how they dealt with them, how they maintained their relationships - with the hopes of being able to help other women as they get ready to be deployed."

Agazio, the mother of twins, retired from the Army Nurse Corps in 2000 after 22 years of active duty. This is her sixth research grant from TriService Nursing, which supports excellence in military nursing care through research.

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in Catholic University's Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.