6 April 2014
Children of military families need extra support. They are just as affected as the service person’s rigorous lifestyle of deployments, combat, and relocation. Children face issues of attachment, reunification, and adaptation in the home. Socially, their lives are disrupted as important developmental skills of adapting to academic demands, creating social groups, and participating in activities are altered and must be discovered or fostered. Many families move frequently or the service person is frequently leaving family behind. Reports have shown that many families after 9/11 are suffering from child maltreatment or neglect. Research into the mental health and well-being of children of these families is fairly new, and lacking, but surfacing after 9/11.
Military life is a unique life often untapped in the day-to-day education of civilian life. Citizens know that military families exist, but are unaware of the unique struggles these families face nor of the unique community life military families have. What’s military life like for families? Their lives are built upon support systems of proximity to military bases. However, many families find themselves away from bases, thus lacking in specific supports. Educators and child development professionals need further resources extending their expertise, particularly those untrained in psychology or trauma. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has a valuable website that encompasses a wide scope of information containing easy to find resources for the family, educators, professionals not in education, and current policies supporting military families. To learn more go to http://nctsn.org/. For military specific information, go to http://nctsn.org/resources/topics/military-children-and-families.
The NCTSN believes their issue they raise is important so that America can continue to support the military (and what the military does). Although this can leave a sour taste in the mouths of some people, including this author, due to the effects of war on the community and those in service, as well as the negative effects from military life on soldiers in general, I believe for this particular issue, there can be no negative bias in supplying information on the life of military families and bringing awareness to the lack of support. No matter who funds the NCTSN, drawing attention to the ostracized or isolated or abnormal life of military families is important. We need more citizens, including child development professionals, to support these families by creating a network of knowledge. Community members, primary and collegiate schools, places of worship, and businesses need to remember military families in the process of thinking of diversity.
National Center for Child Traumatic Stress and National Child Traumatic Stress Network staff. (2014). Military and Veteran Families and Children. Retrieved on http://nctsn.org/resources/topics/military-children-and-families.
For other ideas supporting military families:
See what grants are available for military families with children at www.ourmilitarykids.org to help families get children involved in sports (or any extracurricular activity) or receive academic tutoring–all for free as a therapeutic way to aid children of military families.
Go to http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/03/prweb11715311.htm for an understanding of what caregivers (often the spouse) of military families face and then learn how to support them at http://www.operationfamilycaregiver.org/.