Operation LEARN

Does your wounded warrior…

  • Suffer from anger management issues?
  • Experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury from combat trauma?
  • Have difficulty with the overwhelming obstacles of daily living now that he/she has returned home?

If so, Operation LEARN is here to help! Through Operation LEARN, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) offer online learning tools to military caregivers.

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.

To find out more information on Operation LEARN and to choose the tutorial best suited to meet your needs and those of your service member go to (http://www.extension.org/pages/60994/operation-learn).

 

When a Deployed Parent Returns Home

Boy embracing father
He missed his Dad

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.

In a recent NICHD-funded study, The Long War and Parental Combat Deployment: Effects on Military Children and At-Home Spouses, Dr. Patricia Lester and her team examined the effects of combat deployment on the behavior and emotional functioning of children aged 6 to 12.

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.

So even though children are very happy to see their parent after many months away (as in this video of a little girl who correctly spells the word “sergeant” in a spelling bee then turns around to see her father appear from behind the curtain), it does not mean the difficulties associated with deployment are over.

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:

Coming Home: Adjustments For Military Families

Families In The Military

 

What resources do you use when working with military families and those with active duty deployed parents?