A decade of war does a lot to parents serving in the military…and even more to their children left behind at home.
Child Trends, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center, has issued a report on the risks facing young children in military families. “Repeated and lengthy deployments can be particularly problematic for children’s well-being,” it notes. “For a young child, the prolonged absence of a parent, or having a parent whose emotional health is compromised, can negatively impact children’s emotional development, leading to increased rates of depression and anxiety.”
There are 2 million children in military families, with 500,000 under the ages of six. These kids are at risk from stress often caused when one or more parents is deployed, especially if they return home with serious mental illnesses.
“When you push human beings this hard, they break,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Veterans of Foreign Wars gathering in Louisville, Ky., Monday. “And our people have been pushed close to the breaking point. Some have been pushed beyond the breaking point.”
And those breaks, he could have added, echo through the generations.