Military Resource: Children Affected By Deployment

It is rather easy to recognize the heroism of our soldiers. They are our defenders. Literally, they go overseas with a weapon and a plan and take care of those things the average citizen cannot. A group of people who are recognized less yet are heroic in their own right, are the children of military members. They are left to look after the home while their mothers and fathers defend America’s interest. They grow up fast and take care of their younger siblings and do everything they can to make sure the home front is on their parent’s mind as little as possible. 

 

Parents:

Leaving a child home before deployment may be the single most difficult thing a soldier has to do. While, to be sure, there are monumentally difficult accomplishments the soldier is tasked with achieving, leaving one’s children often tops them all. Some days are better than others (depending on the reason and duration of the deployment) but not a single one is easy. They can be made easier through preparation and knowledge. Having an idea of what must be done before, during and after a deployment can make this bumpy road as smooth as possible. Below are links that provide just that, a smoother road. A special by the people at Sesame Street (it is for adults) interviews soldiers about time spent away and how they prepare their families for the difficult times ahead. There are also tips on how to best prepare your special needs child, and further resources.

Sesame Street: Grown Ups – Getting Ready to Deploy
National Military Family Association
Parent Tips: Deployment from an Autistic Child
Military Parent Resources
Military Family Programs and Deployment Resources
Association of the United States Army – Resources
Student/Parent Checklist for Entering a New School

 

For Kids:

As is the case with any deployment, situations are going to arise during your absence that you wish you could have been there for. These incidents, like the loss of a family member or friend, are completely unforeseeable and, while you will spend time wishing you could be home to help your child handle the situation, you have to have faith that your preparation and parenting skills will be enough to see your child through, as well as the positive influence of the mother, father, or guardian of your son or daughter while you are away. 

There are also means of communication afforded by technology that allow you to be home even when you are not. Webcams and software such as Skype allow for face to face communication over the internet. It is important that you make your child aware of the many ways he or she can contact you while you are away, and in this way you will be able to help them through some of those aforementioned unforeseeable circumstances. There are resources below with more ideas.

Sometimes a deployment means relocating your family, and while they may be seasoned enough for culture shock to have little effect on their psyche, your child changing schools is never an easy task. To aid in this effort, there are links below.

Deployment Kids – Staying in Touch
Changing Schools
Supporting Your Veterans While a Loved One is Deployed
Military Supports for Students
 

Helping Your Children Cope:

While time spent away, especially if that time is spent at war, is eminently difficult for the deployed parent, it is equally difficult for the child. Whether that child is a toddler or on the verge of adulthood, the absence of a parent takes its toll. With that in mind, it is important to ensure your child has ways of passing the time without you. This means getting them involved in activities that can bring a means of thinking about you in a positive and constructive way. It is not uncommon for the military child to feel a sense of abandonment.

 

Books for Military Families
Helping Your Child Cope
Pillows for Military Children
Operation: Give a Hug - Resources
Your Children and Separation
Adjustments for Military Families


Helping Military Kids:

There are many citizens and retired service men and women who know the difficulties of the life of a soldier. They may have grown up in a military household or led one for a number of years. These people may be of the mind to help military kids, and there are many organizations out there for just this purpose. These organizations provide counseling, scholarships, and even make keepsakes for military children to remember their mother or father while that person is away.


Our Military Kids Survey
Operation: Military Kids
Scholarships for Military Children
Fact Sheet on the Military Child
Celebrate the Military Child
Military Children’s Charity Inc.

Should the Ultimate Sacrifice Be Made?

It is a sad but very real fact of the military life that some soldiers do not make it home from their deployments. While this is always sad for the country as a whole, it is a tragedy for the children left behind. There are, however, organizations dedicated to helping those children as best they can. 

Helping Bereaved Military Children
Traumatic Grief in Military Children

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