Having lived with my grandsons while their father was deployed in Iraq, I can absolutely agree with the premise of this article. Children are not unaware of what is happening around them; they simply lack the skill and the tools to deal with the anxiety they feel about it. When a child is anxious or depressed, acting out is usually the very first symptom.
In our case, my boys started having trouble at school, they slept all the time, they argued with each other more and more, even to becoming physical. All of this behavior was not necessarily new, but the frequency and duration and even the degree of the problem seemed to escalate once their father was deployed. I fear that the children of our soldiers are the silent victims of this war.
Here is an article from USA Today that talks about the effects of deployment on these kids. Let me know what you think, won’t you?
Children of active-duty military personnel make 18% more trips to the doctor for behavioral problems and 19% more visits for stress disorders when a military parent is deployed compared with when the parent is home, according to a study of children ages 3 to 8 in today’s Pediatrics.
Those increases are even more striking given that the overall number of doctors’ visits declined 11% during deployment, perhaps because the lone parent at home was so busy, says study author Gregory Gorman, who analyzed the medical records of nearly 643,000 children and 443,000 parents from 2006 to 2007.
Gorman, a pediatrician with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., says military doctors are usually aware of the burden on such children, but he hopes more civilian doctors, who care for two-thirds of kids in military families, will find out if a parent is deployed and ask how families are coping.
Research shows that kids of enlisted Army soldiers are more likely to suffer maltreatment when a parent is in combat and that Army wives are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders or other mental health conditions when their husbands are deployed.
The new study may actually underestimate the psychological stress on military families because it included all branches of the service, instead of concentrating on the Army and Marines, who have done most of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, says Deborah Gibbs of RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., author of the maltreatment study. The new study also excludes the Reserves and National Guard, some of whose members have completed multiple tours of duty.
“Most military families cope astonishingly well,” Gibbs says. But “the National Guard and Reserve families have all the same stresses but none of the support that active-duty families have.”
- Mental Health Visits Seen Rising as Parent Deploys – New York Times (news.google.com)
- Military Deployment Stress Seeps to Children (abcnews.go.com)
- Letter: Stress on Military Children (nytimes.com)
- Brain Scan Can Predict Therapy Response for Anxious Kids (psychcentral.com)