The Most Important Skills
You Must Learn
In Order to Survive the Stresses of Deployment
The Soldiers Are Not The Only Ones Who Suffer During Deployment
“Learn how deployment affects the soldier’s families and learn about different coping strategies to help you get through these tough times”
Did you know…?
Either most of society is in denial or naïve when it comes to the extreme emotional stress that both the service member and the family experiences that is left behind. When a soldier is deployed, everyone close to that military soldier is affected - no matter how long the length of the deployment.
The family will have to restructure family roles. The other spouse suddenly becomes responsible for the finances, the upkeep of the house and the car. In addition, the other spouse will have to assume complete and full responsibility for the children when it comes to caring and disciplining the children. They literally have to take on both the mother and father role along with all the responsibilities what come along with it. That is a full time job in itself. It is common for young families to move to the location where they first started their family – a new beginning. The reason for this is to help reduce costs and to add to the psychological and physical support, which is, need in order to survive and help keep a stable and healthy family environment.
Many issues arise when a loved one is deployed, especially for children with deployed parents. Each individual in the family of a deployed military soldier must get used to the new roles and responsibilities in their household along with the emotional distress of the "loss" through separation of their loved one. Deployment is stressful to begin with but it is even more dramatizing for families who have more than one soldier away in deployment.
Another important factor to consider is that 70 percent of the people in the United States come from dysfunctional families. Many dysfunctional families who have many pre-existing problems and/or troubled family members tend to be at higher risk for poor adjustments during deployments and separations.
Most school age children and their families will be able to adjust to their new lifestyle after the departure of a spouse or parent. However, students who have had previous social or emotional problems may continue to have serious symptoms of stress and their ability to function properly in school.
The difference between a normal and serious reaction is how long and to what extent the student exhibits adjustment problems.
For example, the student who is quiet, introverted, lack of social skills and goes unnoticed in a classroom may need more immediate intervention than a child who is restless and acting out. If their change in behavior last more than six weeks, then the parent or caregiver needs to be notified and a referral for a school counseling, community or military services needs to be scheduled for the child, so the child can develop the proper coping skills in order to live a happy, healthy and productive life.
How do you know if the family member is suffering from serious stress caused by the deployment?
If someone in your family is suffering from severe stress and needs help you will notice these signs and symptoms – the warning signs
· Constant worrying
· Panics often
· Looks and acts nervous all the time
· Sudden change in behavior (anti-social)
· Lack of communication with friends and adults
· Serious depression
· Extreme Withdrawal
· Auditory or visual hallucinations
· Behavioral changes last more than six weeks after deployment
Serious Stress Reactions:
· Inability to resume normal responsibilities and activities
· Children will have a hard time participating in class
· Children will experience a lack of interest in after school activities
· High levels of emotions
· Constantly crying
· Being sad all the time
· Withdrawn from society
· Violent or depressed feelings expressed in "dark" drawings or writings
· Causing intentional harm to themselves or others
· A considerable amount of weight gain or weight loss in a short period of time
· Loss of interest in your appearance
· Drug or alcohol abuse
A serious reaction to separation usually begins within the first 24 to 48 hours. In the two weeks after the deployment, the reactions may change. Behaviors will differ depending upon the age, developmental and maturity of the person.
For children some may not show any signs until a couple weeks or months after their family member deploys.
What are the warning signs that parents and teachers should look for in children when a parent is deployed?
In preschool or kindergarten:
· Clinging to people
· Clinging to a favorite toy, object or blanket
· Unexplained crying or tearfulness
· Change in friendships with other social peers
· Choosing adults over kids the same age as them
· Increase in aggression toward people or things
· Withdrawing from people or things
· Sleep difficulty – nightmares or frequent waking
· Regressing such as toileting accidents and thumb sucking
· Eating difficulties
In school-age children, you may see any of the signs exhibited by younger children, ALONG WITH
· A increase in complaints about stomach aches, headaches, or other illnesses when nothing seems to be wrong
· increase in irritability or grumpiness
· Increase in school problems - a drop in grades, not wanting to go to school, or odd complaints about school and/or teachers.
· Negative behavior changes
Tips on how deployed families can get through these tough times
- Parents should talk to their kids about their thoughts and feelings
- Talking to friends and family members
- Keeping journal
- Having children express through themselves through art
- School, counseling
- Support groups
- Daily discussions with your children
- Let your children know you’re here to listen
- Try to do things in a stable fashion (similar daily schedules)
Organizations to help families during deployment