July 4th is an important day of remembrance, celebrating freedom. It’s also a great time to remember and say thanks to the U.S. Armed Forces and their children and families for the sacrifices they’ve made to help protect that freedom.
Close to half the men and women in all branches of the military have children and many of those children are of school age. Those children and parents often face many challenges during deployment and in peacetime. They face exposure to violence and traumatic experiences through things such as bullying at school or domestic violence at home.
In a recent article, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talks about the challenges facing children in military families citing examples such as “the children of a career service member will move an average of eight times during their school years. They will spend long periods away from their parents, and they will move between school systems that differ in quality.” It is noted in Bullying and the Military Child that these frequent movements can make children especially vulnerable to bullying because they are constantly re-establishing identities.
In addition, these children and their families are also at higher risk for exposure to violence through incidents of domestic violence. A few years ago, the New York Times shared a series on what can happen when war veterans return home. There were several devastating stories of domestic violence situations that escalated and turned deadly for the family.
The important thing to remember is that people, communities, organizations, and the government are really working to raise awareness and provide support to families in order to build hope and work to prevent and reduce risks. A few recent examples in the news include:
Coming Together Around Military Families ®: an online newsletter from Military Family Projects at ZERO TO THREE
The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families shares some great new resources for veterans and active military personnel and their families.
Experts get elementary to help children in military families
A program implemented in six elementary schools at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is placing mental-health experts in classrooms to help children in military families cope when their parents are deployed.
Mental health group urges increased assistance for military, families
A new report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness said the government needs to fill the gaps in mental health coverage for America’s soldiers and veterans, who – along with their families – face high rates of mental illness.
Sean Farnham aiming to bring basketball to military children
Sean Farnham, college basketball analyst for ESPN, has started a foundation, Hoops From Home. It is an organization that, on the surface, is designed to bring basketball camps to kids living on military bases. The hope is that it will provide kids with an outlet to deal with the stress of having a deployed parent and to help them build relationships.
Finally, as you celebrate the 4th this year, please remember our troops and their families!