When a parent is deployed during wartime, it can take a toll on the mental and physical health of the entire family, especially children. A new research study conducted by the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families confirms what we at the National Home have witnessed firsthand, that children need special attention during this potentially vulnerable time.
This study compares the rates of mental health visits, injury visits and child maltreatment visits for young children (ages 3-8) of previously deployed/uninjured and previously deployed/injured military parents, as compared to young children of military parents who have not been deployed. The researchers found that not only do children experience more mental health problems during a parent’s deployment, but that the problems continue - and can even increase - after a parent returns home. This risk is even greater if the parent was injured (mentally or physically) in combat.
The researchers note that the Department of Defense has many tools to help families prepare for an upcoming deployment, but few to help them reunify after deployments. As this study indicates, it is crucial that children receive supportive care both during and after deployments, and that caretakers understand the post-deployment period is a time of increased risk for the entire family.
The VFW National Home for Children can help families who are struggling during this particularly sensitive time. Families can reunite, reconnect and regroup in the safe and supportive environment of the National Home community, with access to the tools and supportive services they need to navigate this very important time in their lives. Learn more about our services.