Military kids struggle when parents are deployed, new study finds

We know all about the mental health dangers facing troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. But children suffer, too, when their parents are deployed.

Helpful Links

Currently more than 130,000 military kids have a mother or
father deployed in wartime, according to the National Military
Family Association. If you’re a military family or if you want to
help, check out these local and national resources:

  • State of Illinois’ Operation Homefront
    has a special section on military families and kids
  • National Military
    Family Association
  • Operation: Military Kids. A program of the U.S. Army,
    www.operationmilitarykids.org, works with communities to offer
    support programs to families dealing with deployment.
  • Zero to Three a national non-profit
    offers several programs for military families, including a Coming
    Together Around Military Families free e-newsletter.
  • Sesame Street Workshop has a partnership with
    the USO to make available a DVD series, “Talk, Listen, Connect for
    Military Families,” geared at kids age 2 to 5 to deal with
    deployment issues.

A nationwide retrospective study of more than 640,000 children age 3 to 8 found that mental and behavioral health visits increased 11 percent in children when a military parent deployed; behavioral disorders increased 19 percent and stress disorders 18 percent.

Related: When parents go to war, families pay a price: Two weeks with the 909th Forward Surgical Team

Rates for these disorders especially increased in older children and children with military fathers and of married military parents. More than 2 million U.S. children have been affected directly by a parent’s military deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 40 percent of these children younger than 5 years old, finds the report by the Department of Pediatrics Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

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