“Being a military kid sucks, said a 7th Grade boy from Stillwater. He said, the teachers don’t understand me.”A school resource officer told a story of a teenage boy who kept getting in trouble. The young man had an attitude. Soon teachers labeled him as a problem and asked me to step in. The officer said that he listened and soon found out that the real challenge was that the boy’s dad was on his third military deployment. All of us in this room have had some contact with soldiers and military families. How have you been in contact with our service members? Perhaps…Through images on TV & in the newspapers…or when passing one by in the airport or in the shopping mall…wondering if you should stop and shake their hand, say “thanks”, or just pass on by and let them be? As a parent, spouse, sibling, or friend? As an officer pulling over a drunk-driver or responding to a DV call? As child protection, investigating a report of abuse A first responder called to action in the wake of a suicide As a counselor or social worker meeting with a child who’s parent has been deployed? As a colleague or neighbor trying to lend a hand to the family who’s father or mother has been deployed or just returned home? Whether we know it or not, we have all been in contact with the persons who serve in our armed forces.
Rates of mental health diagnoses depend on how Data based on longitudinal study, Readiness & Resiliency in National Guard Soldiers (RINGS) upon return from deployment in 2006-2007. Participants: 348 National Guard soldiers who completed self-report measures and diagnostic clinical interviews.
A survey of 422 MN National Guard Soldiers deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom on a combat mission from early 2006 to late 2007 assessed alcohol use 3 months after a combat deployment and again a year later. Diagnostic interviews conducted within the first year of return with 355 of these National Guard soldiers found that 9% fit criteria for a clinical disorder relating to alcohol (either alcohol abuse or dependence).
Ask a soldier, a family, they know the countdown All you want to do is get home. But once home, so much has changed.Family-appearance of the home-friendsEmploymentChildrenAt one point or an other, every SM will say, “I wish I were back there. It was easier.” On deployment, life is straight forward. This is a single mission and everyone is focused on the same goal. Feelings that you don’t belong
Talking Points:--Egocentrism….not necessarily a bad thing, but things are taken very personally A 4 year old believes they’ve done something wrong and mommy or daddy left An 9 or 10 year olds believes that dad or mom would rather love and serve their country than love and care for them The 16-year old may feel both respect for his parent’s decision and willingness to work to protect the country, but also burdened by the increased responsibility they must endure at home to help out while mom or dad are awayAll children will worry----”what’s going to happen to me? What’s going to happen to our family if….” - Decreased sense of security and certaintyDepends on DevelopmentDealing with Separation from parent New role of non-deployed parentVisible & invisible injuries of deployed parent Risk for trauma exposure
Hero Packs are given to military kids who have a loved one deployed to thank them for their service and courage. The packs are typically distributed at Family Prep Academies. Packs are only handed out at events and not on an individual basis.The MTL is a lab that travels the state and is available at events for military kids to stay connected to their deployed loved one. The MTL is can be used in a variety of ways, including to create Zoom Albums, SOMK presentations, greeting cards and more. Ready Set Go: Professionals around the state go out to community groups, schools and conferences to help build awareness around the issues that military youth face. At these trainings participants learn about the deployment cycle, how kids are affected by deployment and ways that they can help support military youth.
Traumatic Stress in Children and Families Military Families
Acknowledgments MN National Guard & State of MN Ambit Network, University of Minnesota Dr. Abigail Gewirtz, Executive Director National Child Traumatic Stress Network Implementation Sciences International, Inc. Marion Forgatch, Ph.D. MN Veterans Medical Center Melissa Polusney, Ph.D., LP National Institute on Drug & Alcohol Abuse
Mental Health Post Deployment Most returned soldiers do not meet criteria for mental health diagnoses Estimates of MH diagnoses range from 7-15% Depression & non-PTSD disorders are most common When PTSD occurs severe implications for functioning PTSD often? Co-occurs with other problems Does not incrementally decrease quality of life Kehle, Reddy, et al., 2010
Substance Use & Reintegration afterCombat Deployment 36% screened positive for “risky” levels 3 months after their return 30% continued to report drinking at risky levels 1 year later 9% fit criteria for a clinical disorder relating to alcohol (either alcohol abuse or dependence) within the first year of return From the Readiness and Resilience in National Guard Soldiers (RINGS) Study
Common Reactions Coping with loss and transition Coping with visible and invisible injuries Feelings of personal blame, guilt, anger, and worry Changes in routines & daily rhythms For those not on a base, feeling like an “outsider” or different
What Do We See? Changes in behavior at home & school Separation anxiety & confusion Withdrawal Anger Difficulties concentrating Lower academic performance Increased risky behaviors Changes in Social Interactions Social withdrawal or turning to friends Increased use of social drinking
Self as Person Emotions Emotional “shut-down” or restriction Anger Guilt Fear of disappointing family and children Behaviors: Fight or Flight….or Escape Reinforced defensive responses from military training Increased risk for abusive or violent reactions Sudden outbursts Withdraw, Reenlist, Drink/get high/shoot up
Self as Parent Tolerance for chaos, change, being needed, & discipline How do I respond to my child’s needs and emotions? How do I discipline? Can I maintain positive involvement with my child & their social activities?
Resources Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs C.O.R.E. – Case-management, Outreach, and Education http://MinnesotaVeteran.org Minnesota Department of Education: Military Family Resources http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/StuSuc/MilFam/index.ht ml Provides resources to Minnesota educators regarding how students may be affected by a parent’s military service Military Child Education Coalation http://www.militarychild.org/ Ensures quality educational opportunities for all military children affected by mobility, family separation, and transition.
Resources Free on-line tutoring: http://www.tutor.com/military/how-it-works Beyond the Yellow Ribbon http://www.BeyondTheYellowRibbon.org Operation Military Kids Speak Out Retreat Minnesota National Guard Youth Camp Camp Gratitude Basecamp Operation Purple Camp “I really enjoyed hanging out with Minnesota Military Teen Panel everyone that knows how it feels Military Teen Adventure Camp to be a military kid. It’s easy to meet people when you have things in common.”
Resources Operation Military Kids http://www.operationmilitarykids.org/public/statePOCHom e.aspx?state=Minnesota Hero Packs Mobile Technology Labs Ready, Set, Go! (Hidden Heroes) Training