Children of Combat Veterans Get War Wounds Too


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Traci D. Patterson
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 Children of Combat Veterans Get War Wounds Too

HOUSTON, TX (April 2, 2012)—Children and youth with a parent in the military are just as much a part of the military as their parent. They experience challenges that many civilian children will never experience and could never imagine. Moving and changing schools and friends frequently, knowing that mom or dad is deployed into a dangerous situation, seeing a parent return from combat with missing limbs and battle scars, adjusting to and understanding a warrior parent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a Traumatic Brain Injury—wounds of combat that they do not see—are just a few of the weighty issues in which military kids are exposed.

This April, during Military Child Month, Mental Health America of Greater Houston joins advocates across the nation in recognizing the courage, resiliency and wellness of children in military families. Over two million military-connected youth live and cope with a host of life transitions, including the mental wellness of their parent, which can cause their own social and emotional wellness to be at stake.

“When a parent has a mental health concern, a child is also at risk of developing a mental health concern,” said Susan Fordice, President and CEO of Mental Health America of Greater Houston. “As the attention and care is given to heal the mental wounds of the parent it is equally important to care for the emotional wounds of the children of these veterans.”

According to the RAND study, Children on the Homefront, kids in military families, especially those who have experienced longer periods of time away from a deployed parent, have significantly higher rates of problems, especially emotional and behavioral difficulties, than non-military kids. The most common conditions are depression, behavioral problems, anxiety, stress and sleep disorders.

Although Houston does not have a military installation, the city is home to thousands of children who have a parent who is a veteran or a parent actively serving in the military, the National Guard or the Reserves.

A growing body of research suggests that deployments and returns can be even more stressful for families who are part of the approximately 1.1 million service members who are part of National Guard or Reserve units. Many times these families live away from the built-in resources and support systems that are provided to active component families who live on, or near, a military base.  As a result, Guard and Reserve families do not always fully know where to go in the community for assistance if and when it is needed.

Military Child Month provides a powerful opportunity to raise awareness and identify early signs of emotional or physical challenges and identify resources to help these kids meet the unique challenges they face.




Category: press release