Swedish soldier and familymember. The motivation of the soldiers in response of their families. Worries and longing for each other: Military family research about Swedish soldiers, veterans and families in context of deployment. Swedish Military Families

Ann-Margreth E. Olsson

Research output: Book/ReportBook

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Dialogical participatory action research was conducted during 2012-2017 with and about Swedish soldiers, veterans and their families, experiencing having a family member deployed abroad in areas of war and terror. It was explored how the families managed, what support they needed as well as the capacity they themselves developed. The study comprised 110 adult participants, of which 42 were soldiers/veterans, 42 partners, 21 parents of soldiers, 10 siblings.  There were participants having a double connection, for example being a veteran and a partner. Also 37 children of soldiers/veteran have particpated and even more been told about.


In this report focuses on the soldier's motivation and adds the relational aspect.  The soldier’s motivation emerges as designed by the soldier in relation to and in interaction with significant others in the soldier's family, military work and network. The motivation is joint in something that can be seen as an interlinked network of wishes and hopes, expectations and demands communicated in the interaction between people in the soldier's network and several different contexts surrounding the soldier. Unbalance in the interaction can lead to a soldier longing for the context of the deployment with predictability as to what is expected of the participants, with tasks that feel meaningful. Without this, the “poison of mission " and "mission guts" sucks the veterans into becoming deployed again.


Family members report on how the interaction within the family has become influenced for better or worse. The results indicate that the more the soldiers are able to involve their families and explain for them about what is going on as well as motivate themselves to listen and pay attention to each other's perspectives, the better conditions for successful deployment both for the soldiers and the families. There are narrations about relatives having deep feelings of loss and how these feelings become harder to bear when combined with concerns for the soldier's safety and continued capacity to manage at home if something undesirable happens. Crucial in all stages and phases is the access to good means of communication and enough opportunities for communication in relation to each other. Together with the families, the military system needs to make adjustments and develop solutions that make the combination work - family easier for soldiers expected to be able to fulfill parenting and be a member of his/her family at distance. In this couples and families may experience difficulties to distinguish external circumstances from concerns stemming from their inner processes and relationships. This can be prevented by:


1) The military system facilitating troops maintenance of relational contact with their families and relatives, advising on forms that allow this to proceed an integrity-proof manner, both during pre-deployment and deployment.2) Families and relatives become informed early in the process and invited to become more familiar with the purpose and goals of military initiatives, specifics of the commission and the conditions of the deployment, including working and living conditions awaiting the soldier, and, what can be expected to emerge during the deployment including families’ and family-members’ own responses as well as from others in the environment. This could include tips on how these issues can be prevented, approached and resolved.3) That the soldier is encouraged and offered support in preparing and communicating with his family and relatives before action, in good time, as well as when necessary during and after the event. Each commanding officer is suggested to keep him/herself informed about the development of the home front of each subordinated soldier in context of deployment.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKristianstad
PublisherKristianstad University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameCollaborative and integrated approaches to health
ISSN (Print)1652-9979

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Other Social Sciences (509)


  • extended family
  • longing for
  • loss
  • military familiy
  • motivation
  • network
  • primary family
  • responses
  • soldier
  • soldier´s family
  • worries


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