For military children, deployment can be a persistent source of stress, unease, and anxiety, resulting in long-term effects on mental health and overall well-being. Luckily, there are a growing number of vital resources available for both children and parents as they navigate the challenges of deployment and develop emotional resilience together.
If you are seeking resources and support for your family, we’re here to help. Through our Mental Health Resources and Child Care Resources & Referrals, we connect families with the support they need to thrive in Onslow County and beyond. In cases where children need to begin the journey to hope and healing after abuse, our Child Advocacy Center provides critical supports. Learn more here.
In the United States, there are approximately 1.76 million children and youth in military families. Of this number, 78 percent are under the age of 11, and 80 percent are under the age of 15. More than two million American children have had a parent deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan; at least 19,000 children have had a parent wounded in action, and over 2,200 children have lost a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Sadly, deployment has long been associated with mental health challenges in military families, behavioral problems in children, a higher risk for divorce, and increased rates of suicide. Children of military families often experience multiple stressors before and during their parent’s deployment and return home, underscoring the need for mental health support systems for children in military communities.
Children in military families often experience high rates of mental health challenges and trauma. Military life can be fueled by the ups and downs of deployment and frequent moves. Anxiety about a parent becoming injured or dying can also be a great source of psychological stress for children.
Symptoms range from changes in school performance, academic challenges, sadness, depression, anxiety, and more. Deployment stress symptoms vary, depending on your child’s age and temperament, but typically include:
Changes in eating habits
Changes in sleeping habits
If you notice your child’s behavior deteriorating, it’s always best to seek help. Luckily, the military community offers several powerful support systems for parents and children alike. We recommend reaching out for help—and don’t forget to rely on your military community as well.
Just as your child may experience mental stress and symptoms from deployment, if you’re a partner of someone who is deployed, you may experience stress too. Common symptoms of toxic stress include problems sleeping, unusual irritability or outbursts, anxiety or panic attacks, trouble concentrating, signs of depression, or difficulty completing tasks.
As you navigate parenting and deployment, remember that you’re not alone. If you feel overwhelmed with stress, reach out to your community:
At One Place, we’re committed to providing vital resources, services, and support to the military families in our community. We do this in three ways:
Children’s Mental Health: Early experiences mold and shape a child’s developing brain, laying the foundation for healthy long-term mental resilience. We provide early education programs that support a child’s healthy development during the first 2,000 days of their life. We have partnered with a team of trauma-informed mental health professionals and are working to offer on-site wrap-around services to victims of child abuse seen in our Child Advocacy Center to include collaboration with victim advocates and the victim’s health care provider for a more holistic approach to healing. We also work to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) from occurring in young children. Learn more here.
Child Advocacy Center: For children who have been hurt by abuse or neglect, we offer a child-focused facility that provides hope and healing to children from birth to age 17. At the CAC, we bring together law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, and medical and mental health professionals to develop a holistic, coordinated strategy and support the child in need. Learn more here.
Connecting Families with Resources: For whatever challenges you may face, we’re here to help. For military families, we focus on building resilience and stability while connecting you with important reasons to help your family thrive. Learn more here.