Kids + Deployment
Deployment and separation will always be part of life in the military. While most families accept this as a routine fact of life, the deployment of a service member still comes with challenges – especially when the service member is a parent. Our Association commissioned a study of military children which revealed that kids who experience the deployment of a parent often show higher levels of stress and anxiety than their civilian friends. Younger children may not have the tools to understand where Mom or Dad has gone or when they’re coming back. Older kids feel the burden of having to worry about the absent parent while they take on extra responsibilities at home.
Military parents know there’s no way to make deployments easy for their kids. However, there are great resources available to help parents and children get through the months apart. Here are a few tried and true programs that have helped many military families survive – and thrive – during deployment.
- Your installation’s office of Child and Youth Services may offer programs or services geared for children of deployed service members.
- Military OneSource offers a wide range of resources to help kids through deployment. The site features articles with tips on staying connected through a deployment and reintegration and links to other valuable resources. Families can also order free age-appropriate books and videos to help kids understand and communicate their feelings about deployment.
- United Through Reading is a free service that records service members reading a book to their children. The DVD is then sent to the service member’s family, so kids can experience Mom or Dad reading them a bedtime story even when they’re far away.
- Sesame Workshop produced a video and online guide to support young children through the deployment of a parent. The program, called Talk, Listen, Connect is free to families through Military OneSource
- Military Kids Connect is an online community for military children (ages 6-17) that provides access to age-appropriate resources to support children dealing with the unique psychological challenges of military live. The site was created by the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, a Department of Defense agency, and features secure discussion boards where military kids can connect with others who know what it’s like to have a parent deployed.
- Our Military Kids provides grants to children of deployed Guard and Reserve service members. These grants allow children to choose activities, such as ballet, baseball or tutoring, that they enjoy. As a result, they experience higher self-esteem, reduced stress and improved school performance.