New research suggests longer deployments can lead to more stress in military children.
By Rebecca Sheir
New research suggests children from military families may experience above-average levels of emotional and behavioral difficulties compared to national norms. The research is among the first to explore how children are faring during an extended period of wartime.
Anita Chandra is a behavioral psychologist with the RAND Corporation. The non-profit think tank in Arlington, Virginia surveyed 1,500 military children for the study.
"We found that the older teens, 15 to 17, they reported more difficulties related to deployment," she says. "They missed more school activities, they were taking on more responsibilities at home. For girls, we also noted more challenges during reintegration, when generally dad returned home from deployment.
Chandra says the longer parents are deployed, the more emotional and social difficulties their children tend to experience. And the mental health of the parent back home can affect young people, too.
So thinking about how we address that parent's well-being is also important, she says.
Chandra says military families not only could benefit from government and community support during deployments, but before and long after as well.