“For many children, resiliency seems to be waning.” — Dr. Amy Richardson, policy researcher with the RAND Corporation.
It’s this quote that really sums up the tone of today’s second military family forum here at AUSA. Deployment has made our children tired, researchers say, and the Army says it is actively seeking ways to help.
Richardson recently concluded an extensive study of how military children are handling the tolls of war. While her research has been in Army hands for awhile, this was the first time much of it was presented to the public.
What she found was interesting, though not surprising: children whose parents have been deployed for accumulatively 19 months or more have modestly lower, but statistically significant, achievement scores.
In short, deployment is hard on kids.
Military spouses, no matter their branch, already know that. What we perhaps did not know out of Richardson’s report, however, is that there is very little (or in her words, “no significant statistical difference”) between the struggles of those whose parents have deployed six or seven times and those whose parents have deployed only twice. There is also very little difference between race, service, rank, gender of parent deployed, job of parent and gender or age of child, she said.
While we would like to see the actual numbers associated with this (we’re working on getting the report), it’s clear that this study really only means one thing: no matter what their military status, children who have faced multiple deployments need help. There is no need to spend a lot of time sectioning out children with different experiences — all have basically the same negative reaction.
Among her suggested fixes for this problem is developing better processes to let off base school administrators know who their military children are, and then give them training to help them deal with potential issues.
Giving children easy access to counselors is also important. Expanding a military pilot program currently run of Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord that places a child psychiatrist and psychologist specializing in military kids in the school would accomplish that goal, officials today said.
Just like most military spouses, our children are very resilient, they said. But, as panelist Shelley MacDermid-Wadsworth, director of Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University said:
Just because someone takes a resiliency class doesn’t mean they are vaccinated against becoming upset when deployment comes.
Of course, much of the point of these forums is to educate the attendees as to the programs available to them. Thomas Lamot, assistant secretary of the Army, manpower and reserve affairs, said this morning that the department of defense is looking towards a $9 billion budget for family programs across the services. That’s a lot of money and a lot programs. But if military families don’t know about them what good are they?
Since not everyone can go to (or watch via live stream) something like this AUSA conference, what is your main source of information on finding out potentially useful programs?
Look to SpoueBUZZ later for a video interview with Maj. Gen. Andrew Gregory, director of general personnel for the British Army talking about what he learned from today’s forum and plans to take home with him.
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