It’s the Month of the Military Child, a time set aside to recognize the nation’s 1.8 million military children and the sacrifices they make to support their mother or father in uniform.
The American Red Cross recognizes the special role children play in supporting their parent or caregiver’s time in the military through its Service to the Armed Forces and offers special programs just for the younger members of military families.
Red Cross SAF Reconnection Workshops are presented by WalMart to provide different tools and resources to rebuild a strong family after deployment. The Relating to Children workshop aims to help military families work through the special issues a child experiences when a parent returns home from a deployment.
According to the United States Department of Defense, “military children’s sacrifices and contributions have risen to the forefront in recent years as people become increasingly aware of the impact a decade of war is having on military families. Many children have had to deal with long-term multiple deployments and separations from one, or both parents. Children whose parent serves in a Guard or Reserve unit may face special issues. They live in communities around the country and may lack nearby support.”
ALL AGES AFFECTED Deployment can affect children and adolescents of all ages. For instance, children may lose or have significantly limited contact with the deployed parent. The financial situation may be positively or negatively impacted. Routines and roles in the family may change.
When a service members returns home from deployment it may begin a series of changes for the entire family with special issues arising for children. During the deployment, family members’ roles and routines were reestablished to compensate for the parent’s absence. When the deployed parent returns, the family roles, expectations, and routines shift again.
A NEW NORMAL All family members are impacted by the return of the military parent and in many cases, things will never go back to how they used to be. The family unit has been changed in very profound and lasting ways. The family can find a new normal, but probably won’t return to how things were in the past.
Though the child may be happy that the parent is home, the inevitable change in routines, roles, rules, boundaries and structure can be very stressful and confusing. Children of all ages may have difficulty navigating these transitions, which may result in behavioral and emotional changes in the child.
The Relating to Children workshop helps the family through the situation by building on the parent or caregiver’s strengths, providing education about child development, identifying issues that may occur during redeployment and providing tools to help children adjust.
FIND A WORKSHOP The Red Cross Reconnection Workshops are presented by Walmart to provide different tools and resources to rebuild a strong family after deployment. The workshops are free, confidential and open to anyone impacted by a military deployment from all branches of the Armed Forces. The program is open to active duty service members, members of Reserve and National Guard units, veterans and their families, including spouses, parents, siblings and significant others. The workshops are available by request. More information can be found at www.redcross.org/reconnectionworkshops. To request a workshop please contact Reconnection@usa.redcross.org