Operation LEARN provides video tutorials to improve the lives of service members and military families. Each series of tutorials increases military families’ awareness of the physical and mental challenges of service members and provides guidance on health and wellness for service members and their family members.
Video tutorials are approximately 15 minutes and are available in English and Spanish.
In keeping with our theme on active duty deployment we wondered, ‘what happens to a child’s stress levels once their deployed parent is safely back home?’ What may come as a surprise to many is that in over 30% of children, high levels of anxiety and stress can remain. Read on to learn more.
What they found was that the combat deployment of a parent does adversely affect children. But what happens when the deployed parent returns home? This is where the study gets interesting; Dr Lester and team found that these adverse effects remain even after the deployed parent returns home.
In fact, most studies prior to this have assumed the most challenging time for the child is during the active deployment period when the parent is actually absent. However, Dr. Lester argues that it isn’t that simple. The reaction a child displays is more complex in that their anxiety levels may remain high until well after the deployed parent is safely back at home.
For instance, Dr. Lester found that one-third of the children in her study reported anxiety levels that were “clinically significant” (severe enough to warrant health care attention) even if their active duty parent was not currently deployed.
As professionals working with military families we need to be aware that the stress doesn’t end with the return of the deployed parent. In fact, stress and anxiety in children can linger thereby affecting their behavior, well-being and development over time.
Given the right knowledge and tools, military parents, healthcare professionals, education, recreation, and faith-based services and military family support service members can all serve to buffer the challenges and stress their children face fostering the development of more resilient children and their families.
One such challenge develops when children feel a disconnect between their deployed parent and themselves. Deployment Kids (http://www.deploymentkids.com/) offers some fun easy online tools to help children feel more connected to their active duty parent while they are away.
For more resources on supporting military families through the deployment phase see the following links: