Stress in the Military

Anand, Nagle, Misra, and Dangi (2013) argue that “military jobs rank extremely high among the most stressful occupations in the world” (p. 1). For instance, a study conducted by the in 2013 indicated that the military working environment was characterized by numerous stressors (Toscano & Roberts, 2014). The major factors affecting such jobs include increased demands, operating in public, taking care of others, working in strenuous environments, and physical threats (Osborne, Gage, & Rolbiecki, 2012). The condition results in increased mental stress, withdrawal, and psychological problems. Consequently, most of the ex-soldiers have increased chances of getting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since stress is a reality in the military, new measures and interventions can be helpful towards supporting the wellbeing of many service members.

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Thesis statement

Military jobs are among the most stressful occupations due to numerous factors such as physical threats, psychological problems, workload pressure, inadequate awareness, role conflict, and lack of organizational support.

Key Terms

Occupational stress

This refers to the hazards affecting employees due to increased pressure at the place of work. The pressure can emerge from workloads and hostile working conditions.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

This is “a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress arising from severe psychological shock” (Anand et al., 2013, p. 3).


This is the kind of stress caused by exhaustion, feelings of inadequacy, and lack of morale (Osborne et al., 2012).

Structured schedules

These are the activities outlined for different workers or servicemen in the military.

Evidence-based management

This refers to the use of approved methods and initiatives to manage stress in the military.

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Historical Background

The military has been admired by many people as a source of inspiration. Servicemen embrace various values such as honor, commitment, and integrity in order to support the interests of their respective nations. Throughout the training process, the individuals are equipped with adequate skills that can support the outlined goals of the military (Osborne et al., 2012). However, many combatants have recorded increased cases of stress. The history of the military has been associated with increased levels of monitoring and vigilance. The soldiers are required to work in extremely dangerous conditions. The roles and responsibilities of soldiers are complex in nature. These issues have made it impossible for many military organizations to deal with the kind of stress.

Past studies have showed conclusively that soldiers live in dangerous environments and situations. They have to scan for threats, follow strict instructions, and sacrifice their lives. More often than not, soldiers have to follow tight schedules and guidelines. Death has always characterized every military intervention. The soldiers lose their friends and teammates frequently. Psychologists have outlined a wide range of mental problems affecting soldiers and veterans of war (Toscano & Roberts, 2014). Nightmares, obsessive thoughts, flashbacks, and PTSD are some of the problems affecting many members of the armed forces (Toscano & Roberts, 2014).

Within the past six decades, very few initiatives have been implemented in an attempt to support the needs of the soldiers. The strategies put in place have mainly focused on the issues affecting ex-war veterans (Sarabandi, Hazarati, & Keykha, 2012). This gap has made it impossible for the affected soldiers to lead unhealthy and unproductive lives. This fact explains why psychological stress remains a major problem affecting servicemen in the United States.

Analysis of Stress in the Military

Occupational stress is a critical issue that has gained much attention in the recent past (Sarabandi et al., 2012). This kind of stress is job-related and can affect the performance of employees. The degree of occupational stress has been observed varies from one organization to another. Stress arising from the working environment can affect a person’s lifestyle. This happens to be the case because many people have to deal with personal and family-related challenges. One of the occupations associated with stress is the military.

Toscano and Roberts (2014) believe that stress in the military remains a unique challenge that calls for evidence-based initiatives. This happens to be the case because soldiers are always required to work in unfamiliar contexts or environments. The hostility associated with such environments make it impossible for them to deal with stress. The environments are characterized by a wide range of factors that contribute directly to stress. For instance, threats from the targeted enemies force the soldiers to stay alert throughout the period.

The death of a colleague is a major challenge affecting every soldier. Such deaths result in reduced morale and commitment. Sometimes this issue affects close relatives or family members. The other acknowledgeable fact is that soldiers in the military are forced to kill other human beings (Sarabandi et al., 2012). They also have to deal with human sufferings. These factors put them in danger.

A study conducted by Sarabandi et al. (2012) indicated that many people who experience strenuous conditions or forces in the battleground will record increased stress levels. This is a major challenge because such stressors are evident in each and every combat zone. The service members “encounter death every single day” (Sarabandi et al., 2012, p. 106). For example, majority of the American soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq encountered similar challenges. The occurrence of such events is something that contributes to increased levels of stress.

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Many individuals deployed in troubled regions are injured. Such injuries contribute to both physical and emotional stress. The degree of the injury is directly proportional to the emotional and psychological health issues affecting the individuals. Consequently, the injured soldiers will eventually have increased chances of have PTSD. The other important consideration is that the soldiers are deployed for a prolonged period of time (Esposito-Smythers, Wolff, & Lemmon, 2012). The individuals should travel every day. Such issues explain why the soldiers will definitely develop emotional problems.

Toscano and Roberts (2014) argue that the level of commitment decreases with the period of deployment. Similarly, the servicemen become demoralized and eventually encounter different stressors. When morale decreases, the soldiers find it impossible to focus on the targeted goals of the mission. Within “the first ten months of deployment, more soldiers will report mental health problems” (Toscano & Roberts, 2014, p. 21). It is also notable that the period of deployment exposes soldiers to a wide range of traumatic military operations and experiences.

Another research study conducted by Esposito-Smythers et al. (2012) indicated that soldiers who are deployed several times will have increased levels of stress. Such service members will also record numerous health problems such as PTSD (Toscano & Roberts, 2014). Emotional and mental health problems continue to affect many soldiers who have served in the military for very many years (Toscano & Roberts, 2014). Recent studies have showed conclusively that service members with poor mental health conditions will face more problems.

The other common source military stress is organizational structure. The organizational structure and leadership in the military is responsible for burnout in the military forces. The organizational environment dictates the psychological aspects of the soldiers. The management style is used to implement structured schedules in the armed forces (Anand et al., 2013). The service members must stick to the schedules and follow strict guidelines or orders. Punishment remains a common practice in these organizations. The soldiers must always be prepared against sudden changes and instructions.

The leadership style experienced in many military institutions is another potential source of stress. It is agreeable that service members are never involved in decision-making processes. The nature of communication is unidirectional. The soldiers must follow the provided rules in an attempt to achieve the targeted goals. The policies used in “the military are not family-friendly” (Toscano & Roberts, 2014, p. 38). These issues therefore contribute to military stress.

The relationships established between different commanders and their followers result in dysfunctions. Unethical behaviors emerge because the soldiers are not guided or empowered. More often than not, the professional soldiers fail to receive desirable support and resources. Such challenges have continued to increase the level of stress in the military (Anand et al., 2013). Poor interpersonal problems such as inadequate communication are evident in many military organizations (Sharma, 2015).

Many service members lack adequate social support in their respective communities. This gap makes it impossible for the soldiers to address their psychological, mental, and emotional needs. The training procedures targeting military men do not equip them with adequate strategies to deal with stress. The prolonged “working hours, hectic tasks, infrequent rest breaks, and heavy workloads dictate the experiences of many service members” (Sharma, 2015, p. 189).


Several measures can be used to address the problem of stress in the military. One of the best approaches towards addressing this problem is through the use of proper training strategies. The soldiers will be equipped with appropriate ideas and skills to deal with stress. Better organizational structures in the military will ensure the soldiers work in appropriate environments. Proper scheduling methods and provision of adequate resources can deal with this problem (Osborne et al., 2012). Ex-soldiers should also be provided with the most appropriate social support. Psychological interventions will play a critical role towards addressing the problem of PTSD. Future studies can also be conducted in order to identify the best strategies to minimize the level of stress affecting many soldiers. The approach will present evidence-based management techniques to address the needs of more soldiers affected by stress.

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Concluding Remarks

This discussion shows conclusively that military jobs are very strenuous. Past studies have ranked them as the most stressful occupations due to various factors such as physical threats, psychological problems, workload pressure, inadequate awareness, role conflict, and lack of organizational support. The leadership models implemented in different military organizations make it impossible for the soldiers to lead normal lives (Anand et al., 2013). The inadequate work schedules contribute a lot to the stresses encountered by many servicemen. That being the case, there is need for military organizations to come up with adequate leadership structures and design powerful social support systems for many service members. The measures will minimize the level of stress affecting many solders.


Anand, K., Nagle, Y., Misra, N., & Dangi, S. (2013). Influence of organizational role stress on perceived burnout among military aircrew. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 3(2), 1-5.

Esposito-Smythers, C., Wolff, J., & Lemmon, K. (2012). Military youth and the deployment cycle: Emotional health consequences and recommendations for intervention. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(4), 497-507.

Osborne, V., Gage, L., & Rolbiecki, A. (2012). Psychosocial effects of trauma on military women serving in the National Guard and Reserves. Advances in Social Work, 13(1), 166-184.

Sarabandi, A., Hazarati, H., & Keykha, M. (2012). Occupational stress in military health settings: A questionnaire-based survey. International Journal of Research, 1(2), 103-108.

Sharma, S. (2015). Occupational stress in the armed forces: An Indian army perspective. IIMB Management Review, 27(3), 185-195.

Toscano, C., & Roberts, K. (2014). Mental health services for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. CSUSB Scholar Works, 24(1), 1-59.

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