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Counselor Education and Supervision
Researchers have indicated that school-aged children with a caregiver who had been deployed were more likely to exhibit emotional and behavioral problems. These problems were impacted by the ability of the parent at home to manage emotions so as to utilize appropriate parenting skills with the child. However, there remained an important gap in the literature regarding the experiences of the military personnel reintegrating with their preschool aged child. Therefore, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to address the experiences of military caregivers with their preschool-aged children through semistructured interviews to better understand the variables that impacted the ability to reattach with the child. The main research question for this study examined reattachment experiences of 11 military parents with their preschool-aged child during reintegration through the theoretical lens of attachment theory because previous attachment literature showed the importance of attachment development during the preschool-aged years. Data from the 11 interviews were analyzed to identify relevant themes that told the story of the experiences of those military personnel, which were then broken into the significant structural and textural descriptions to form the essence of each participant's experience. Data were member checked and triangulated using peer reviewers. Findings from this research helped clarify the positive or negative behaviors of the military parent and contextual factors that impacted the child's ability to reattach with that caregiver. The results also enhanced social change initiatives through increasing awareness and understanding, among all entities that work with the military, of the importance of attachment so as to promote programs that address ways to help those families stay connected during all phases of deployment.