This article simply states the obvious. How could the families and children of deployed servicemen and women not be affected? Frequent and lengthy absences have to interfere with the relationships between parent and child as well as between spouses.
As a grandmother to two grandsons whose father was deployed to Iraq, I can tell you first hand that there is a noticeable change in the psyche of these children. The oldest became defiant and oppositional toward his mother while the youngest became worried and anxious. Both started having school issues. To me this is just to be expected; these young boys, as well as all the other children of deployed parents, have to make major adjustments that they may not be physically able to make. Separation is difficult for children, but then to have every paper and magazine and television talking about the war; that triples the burden.
I’m glad to see that there are studies going on to measure and help determine a way to manage this issue. These are our future, these children. We owe them something better.
Tuesday, Dec. 8 2009 02:10 AM
By Rebecca LaFlure
Killeen Daily Herald
Children of military parents deployed overseas appear to suffer more emotional and behavioral difficulties than their peers, according to a RAND Corporation study.
In the largest study on military children to date, researchers found that one-third of military children surveyed reported anxiety symptoms. The researchers also found that the longer a parent had been deployed in the past three years, the greater chance his or her children were to have trouble in school and at home.
“Multiple deployments take a toll on everyone in the family. … It’s a roller coaster ride,” said Jennifer Cernoch, president of Operation Homefront-Texas, a nonprofit that offers financial and morale support to military families.
The study, which was published Monday by the journal Pediatrics, interviewed 1,500 military youths from across the nation, surveying both children and their at-home parent. About 95 percent of the children surveyed had experienced at least one parent deploying in the past three years.
“Our study begins to shed more light on the nature of the problem. Much more work is needed to better understand these challenges and to improve ways to support children throughout the deployment cycle,” Anita Chandra, the study’s lead author and a behavioral scientist at RAND, said in a statement Monday.
Older children and girls struggled the most when a parent was deployed overseas. This may be due to increased pressure among girls and older children to take on additional household duties when a parent is deployed, researchers say.
Older youths experienced more academic challenges and acted out more in school, while younger children reported a greater number of anxiety symptoms.
The mental health of the non-deployed parent is closely linked to the child’s emotional well-being, the study found. This suggests more services may be needed for military spouses, Chandra said.
Children who live on a military base reported fewer difficulties than those living off-post.
“This is very consistent with what we’re seeing,” Cernoch said. “Active-duty military families connected to a military base have those resources and know people who are in the same situation. Versus the National Guard families spread throughout Texas, they don’t have that immediate support network.”
The study’s release came in the wake of President Barack Obama’s order last week to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
Cleopatra Stanonik, a family readiness support assistant for the 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Battalion, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, said in addition to counseling, Fort Hood provides military children with deployment briefings before and after their parents deploy to help them through these challenges.
“There are several avenues out there for children. It’s much different than how it was years ago,” Stanonik said Monday. “The military has learned that the key to good retention is through the families.”
The deployment briefings prepare children and teens for what to expect while their parent is gone and provides them with tools to manage stress. Prior to the soldier’s return, Fort Hood offers another briefing to teach children and spouses how to incorporate the soldier back into their family structure.
Contact Rebecca LaFlure at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7548.