November is a month in which we celebrate the members of the military we call Veterans. The men who did not have to make the "ultimate" sacrifice, their life. Whether or not we believe in the conflicts and war we find ourselves in, I do believe we can agree on being grateful for sacrifices those in the military make to protect our country - our freedoms.
It's also the month in which we all take stock and are grateful for a myriad of things in our lives.
I'd like to take a moment and highlight sacrifices the military family makes as a unit. They are many and they are serious. This post isn't meant to be exhaustive but to get us thinking about how we can be an active part of the families resilience to these many stressful factors. As a networked and supportive community, it's important to know these things so we can provide an even stronger support system.
- Heightened Risk of Child Abuse in Veteran Families a piece from USA Today called "Study Finds more Child Abuse in Homes of Returning Veterans. The study is going to inform better services for soldiers returning to their families. A couple of items to note: 1) they found that "in most cases the perpetrators were not the soldiers themselves" and 2) "for soldiers deployed twice, the highest rate of abuse and neglect occurred during the second deployment."
- Children are more vulnerable to experiencing toxic stress in military families. "Among young people in military families, stressful circumstances, behaviors, and experiences that would produce tolerable or even positive stress in one situation—before a parent's deployment, for example—might produce toxic stress at another time. Imagine, for example, how hard it could be for a child already burdened with ADHD to complete difficult yet routine school homework after a parent returns from war with a traumatic brain injury or posttraumatic stress disorder." Resilience Among Military Youth, Easterbrooks, et. al.
- Extension, in the post "What Child Care Providers Need to Understand about Stress in Military Children," provides us some bullet points of common sources of stress for children in Military families
- Moving to a new community (often)
- Attending a new child care program
- Deployment of a parent
- Homecoming of a deployed parent
- Being cared for by someone different while parents are deployed
- A military parent's injury or disability
- Overhearing a conversation or news story that suggests the parent is in danger
- Changes in mood or behavior of the non-deployed parent while the other is deployed
- Tensions or challenges in the relationship between the parents
Let's not forget, when interacting with these families, that circumstances are different from the norm and strategic empathy for the children and families can make a difference. Learn about resilience and the impact we can make as a community on these families sacrificing their wellbeing for ours.
Resources for You to Help the Military Families in Your Community
- Programs to Support Military and Youth: http://futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=80&articleid=592§ionid=4136&submit
- Extension.org has a plethora of articles, webinars and resources for the caregiver servicing the military family: https://articles.extension.org/militaryfamilies
- Military Families Learning Network: Serving Military Family Service Professionals has a blog with the category "Child Care" which can be found here: http://blogs.extension.org/militaryfamilies/category/child-care/
- Sesame Street for Military Families. This resource is geared toward the family itself but still has some good resources to engage with military families and gain understanding and talking with children about some difficult topics: http://www.sesamestreetformilitaryfamilies.org/
- Zero to Three is an exemplary resource for anything that has to do with 0-3 year olds. They have an entire Military Projects page including an app specifically for military families. http://www.zerotothree.org/about-us/funded-projects/military-families/
Vanden Brook and Locker, Study Shows More Child Abuse i Homes of Returning Veterans, USA Today, November 12, 2015, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/11/12/study-shows-more-child-abuse-homes-returning-vets/75637992/
Easterbrooks, Ginsburg and Lerner, Resilience Among Military Youth, Military Children and Families, Fall 2013 http://futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=80&articleid=592§ionid=4132
What Child Care Providers Need to Understand about Stress in Military Children, Extension.org, September 27, 2015, https://articles.extension.org/pages/64820/what-child-care-providers-need-to-understand-about-stress-in-military-children