We go on about our lives We hold and kiss our husbands and wives And tuck our children in at night We give them just a fleeting thought Never knowing the plans and dreams they sought Some with babies they never knew No future left to pursue As Angels Fall Their comrades and family’s hearts […]
Most people who have never served in the military, or had family members who have served, could not fully understand the harsh emotional stress put upon a family when a soldier is deployed. Deployment affects everyone moms, dads, wives, children, girlfriends and friends. Everyone in that soldier’s life is affected to some degree.
Children grow up so quickly and sadly there’s a lot a parent may miss out on over just a few months. In a year or more, the impact is even more severe and the emotional affects it leaves on a child could be devastating. Research has shown that the younger the child is the harsher the effects can be when one parent is absent due to deployment.
Deployed parents often miss important events of their children’s lives. Many children develop anger issues caused by stress and disappointment. As much as our soldiers would love to be there to watch thier children grow, the missed birthdays and school events can potentially cause children to harbor resentment toward the parent they are not able to share these experiences with.
A group of researchers in Virginia recently did a study after holding 14 focus groups with 107 youths to talk about their views of deployment. Forty-two kids said a military parent’s return led to a tough post-deployment reintegration. Here is what some of the children had to say…
· “When my dad’s not there, I’m not … the child anymore,” one said. “I have to … almost fill in for the other parent because the only thing my mom really cares about is that I’m ready to baby-sit.”
· “Mom had to pretty much do everything. It was … a problem when dad got back, because you’re more attached to one parent now.”
That being said, not all of the feedback was negative. Researchers also found that while such changes provoked stress for some youths, others were able to evolve and recognize opportunities for personal growth and maturity.
Military families and child advocates worry about the increasing effects of stress during deployment for both the soldier and their families. Will deployed parents be able to reconnect in the short times between deployments — and if not, what are the consequences? If you have concerns about your family, know that there is always hope. See the links listed at the bottom of this article for help and ideas to ease your concerns.
Author Offers Her Thoughts:
Research on the effects of multiple wartime deployments is limited. This scares me because how can we find the right tools and techniques to help our soldiers and their families during and after deployment if there is limited research being done on this issue. This needs to change. Both the soldiers and families will have emotional issues that should be addresses through programs, literature and counseling. This cannot be accomplished if the nation does not provide enough of funds. In addition, the nation needs to have departments and programs spending time and research toward this issue.
There is a difference between struggling, stress, pain, and the development of positive growth in families. Our nation needs to become aware of pros and cons of deployment and the affects it has on soldiers and their families. One issue that should be addressed is the number of deployments allowed in a year. Another is how long each soldier should be away during each deployment. Studies need to be conducted to see the impact of multiple wartime deployments and then something needs to be done so families and soldiers are not hurt and mentally scared from the stresses of deployment.
Organizations to help families during and after deployment:
· The American Red Cross www.redcross.org
· The Boys and Girls Club of America www.bgca.org
· National 4-H Headquarters http://www.national4-hheadquarters.gov/