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